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The Importance of Being Earnest. By Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). The Importance of Being Earnest. Written in 1895 A Comedy in 3 Acts Is a satire Immediate hit when first performed Criticizes Victorian moral and social values Bridges Victorian period/literature with Modern

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the importance of being earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde

(1854-1900)

the importance of being earnest1
The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Written in 1895
  • A Comedy in 3 Acts
  • Is a satire
  • Immediate hit when first performed
  • Criticizes Victorian moral and social values
  • Bridges Victorian period/literature with Modern
  • Uses wit, puns, exaggeration, and wordplay to create humor
fun with words
Fun with words
  • Quip- Clever, witty remark or comment
  • Comedy - light-hearted literature with humor and a happy ending
  • Satire - literary writing that makes fun of or criticizes the faults of people or groups. Purpose is to point out flaws
  • Wit - using words to be clever and funny with language
  • Pun - a play on words
main characters
Main Characters
  • John Worthing, aka “Jack”, aka “Earnest”
  • Algernon Montcrief, Jack’s friend
  • Lane, the butler for Algernon
  • Rev. Chausible, the preacher in the country
  • Lady Bracknell, mother of Gwendolyn
  • Gwendolyn, wants to marry a man named “Earnest”
  • Cecily, Jack’s ward
  • Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess
settings
Settings
  • Time: Around 1890
  • Place(s):
    • London (“the City”)
    • Jack’s House in the Country (a very large estate)
    • The village church
settings1
Settings
  • Jack’s Country House
settings2
Settings
  • Jack’s Drawing Room
settings3
Settings
  • Lady Bracknell’s mansion in London
victorian period
Victorian Period
  • Named for Queen Victoria of England
  • Was Queen from 1837-1901
  • Followed the reign of “Mad” King George
  • The culture was very moral and serious
  • Women were expected to be the “angel in the house” - to take care of their husband and family
queen victoria
Queen Victoria
  • Became Queen as a young girl
  • Married Albert, Prince Consort and adored him
  • After he died, she wore black for the rest of her life
  • Had 9 children
  • Created a culture that valued family and stability
victorian period what wilde was not so wild about
Victorian Period: What Wilde Was Not So Wild About
  • Manners were supremely important
  • English society was divided into classes
  • The Upper-class was well-educated, came from a rich and respected family (“old money”), and having good manners mattered more than anything else
  • Considered bad manners to flaunt wealth, but it was a common occurrence
victorian period1
Victorian Period
  • Young women were always chaperoned until they were married
  • Women’s clothing covered them from neck to ankle; clothes had to be modest
  • In the upper classes, people with a bad reputation were outcasts no matter how much money they had
  • Good manners were extremely important
victorian fashion
Victorian Fashion
  • For the Gentlemen
  • Gloves
  • Canes
  • Top hats are all commonplace among the wealthy
victorian fashion1
Victorian Fashion
  • For the Ladies
    • All ladies would dress “fairly” conservatively depending upon age / station / “new” money vs. “old” money
victorian period2
Victorian Period
  • People did not just “drop in” to visit - they made formal appointments
  • Refreshments were expected when visitors came to “call” (visit) - usually tea and cake or tiny, elegant cucumber sandwiches
  • Men were expected to be well-educated
  • Women were expected to marry well
oscar wilde about the author
Oscar Wilde – About the Author
  • Born in Ireland; lived in England and abroad
  • Attended Trinity College in Ireland and Oxford University in England
  • Very witty and funny
  • Believed in the value of “art for art’s sake” - art (literature) should not be concerned with political issues
  • Wrote several plays, but only one novel
  • Novel: The Picture of Dorian Gray
oscar wilde
Oscar Wilde
  • With other writers and artists, rebelled against the prim, moral, religious culture of Victorian England
  • Was known to be wild, flamboyant, witty
  • Although homosexual, married and had children
  • Being homosexual was illegal, and he served time in prison for it
oscar wilde in short
Oscar Wilde-in short:
  • Handsome
  • Loved clothes
  • Could be quite dramatic
  • Completely unique
  • Came from upper-class family
  • Brilliant writer
  • Loved to shock people
  • “Bad Boy” of his time
  • After prison, he was never allowed to see his family again
  • Spent the remainder of his life in Paris
  • Died alone and poor in Paris
literary vocabulary
Literary Vocabulary
  • Comedy - light-hearted literature with humor and a happy ending
  • Satire - literary writing that makes fun of or criticizes the faults of people or groups. Purpose is to point out flaws
  • Wit - using words to be clever and funny with language
  • Pun - a play on words
literary vocabulary1
Literary Vocabulary
  • Protagonist - the main character
  • Foil - the character who contrasts the main character or intensifies another character’s personality trait(s) (the foil “reflects” the traits of the main character)
  • Blocking figure - A character, often old and cranky, who interferes with the romantic desires of the other characters and provides comic action
  • Motif - a recurring character or element repeated in a literary work. [Such As. . .]
    • Food is a motif in The Importance of Being Earnest
    • Rules and Breaking the Rules is also a motif
the importance of being earnest2
The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Oscar Wilde created many amusing quotes
oscar wilde quotes
Oscar Wilde Quotes
  • “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself. “
  • “I can resist everything except temptation. “
oscar wilde quotes1
Oscar Wilde Quotes
  • “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. “
  • “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
the importance of being earnest3
The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Even though this play was written more than 100 years ago, it continues to be very popular
  • More than one movie has been made of this play, the most recent in the past 10 years
importance of being earnest
Importance of Being Earnest
  • The title of the play is a pun.
  • To be “earnest” means to be serious, and the main character (John/Jack) uses the name “Earnest” when he is in the city
  • “Bunburying” is using an alias to “get away with” avoiding social obligatioins
importance of being earnest1
Importance of Being Earnest
  • What have you learned so far?
  • Know the characters, the setting, the plot
  • Know the basic facts about the author
  • Know the basic facts of Victorian England
  • Know the literary vocabulary required
  • Understand that this play is a comedy