‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde ***** (Reading Ireland Month)

I read Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest as part of Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy746books and The Fluff Is Raging.

Oscar Wilde is one of the authors I absolutely adore. And yet, despite being an English Literature graduate, I had never had the chance to read The Importance of Being Earnest until now. I had dealt with some of its jokes and punch lines in a translation course, I watched scenes of a Greek TV adaptation and of another theatre adaptation of it, but I had never really read the actual and full text.

122638I doubt there are many of you literary people that are unfamiliar with the plot of this ingenius play, but I will provide a short synopsis just in case. Set in England during the 1890s, the play presents the ostensible love troubles and struggles of Jack Worthing and his friend, Algernon Montecrieff, as they try to gain the affection of the two ladies they are in love with. Instead of adhering to the conventional processes, though, they both decide to take up a different identity and lie about their lives; lies that ensue in a number of misunderstandings, false alarms but unexpected revelations as well.

Wilde’s humour and satire are insurmountable. He does not hesitate to poke fun at the society that prevailed at his time and at the people that constituted it. He makes rather scathing and poignant remarks through his characters’ voice and comments about the behaviour of the people at the time, as well as about issues like the publishing of novels by not particularly bright people and so on.

The plot is not necessarily great or even unpredictable nowadays, but Wilde’s writing style and the social issues he decides to tackle still coincide with how society works and how people behave and think in our very own time, despite the fact that more than 100 years have gone by since the time it was written and set in. People’s constant lying in order to impress others, climb higher in people’s estime and attain a more respectful treatment reverberates the behaviour of the people of today as well.

I might be quite biased when it comes to Oscar Wilde and his brilliant work, but I thoroughly enjoyed every part and every moment of this play. I loved the humour, the dialogues, the wit, the characters’ reactions – pretty much everything. I highly recommend this play to anyone who wants to spend some time laughing and snickering over a beautifully written plot and some greatly constructed characters. This play is a perfect companion as a quick evening read or even as something to cheer you up after a tough day. It has definitely wetted my appetite for the rest of Wilde’s plays, an endeavour which I shall embark in soon.

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9 thoughts on “‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde ***** (Reading Ireland Month)

  1. I love his plays possibly more than his short stories. If you haven’t already, then would recommend Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance .

  2. I’m a Literature Graduate too and I’ve not read it either. I meant to after reading The Picture of Dorian Gray. Have you read his short story The Happy Giant? It’s one of the most moving works I’ve ever read.

    I bought a sister a book of his quotes and referenced my favourite on his site. It would be cheeky to link it, so have copied it below. It really is wonderfully perceptive.

    Sir Robert Chilton: I was twenty-two at the time, and I had the double misfortune of being well-born and poor, two unforgiveable things nowadays. Is it fair that the folly, the sin of one’s youth, if men choose to call it a sin, should wreck a life like mine, should place me in the pillory, should shatter all that I have worked for, all that I have built up. Is it fair, Arthur?
    Lord Goring: Life is never fair, Robert. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

    • Yes, ‘The Happy Giant’ broke my heart when I read it some years ago; but it’s such a great story.
      I swear, most of my absolutely favourite quotes come from Oscar Wilde. He was a genius, and it’s so amazing that most of the things he said about the society at his time are still applicable today.

  3. Wilde is one of the authors who always manage to pick me up after a long day. I loved Importance of Being Earnest and I definitely agree with you that his writing style is superb. Lovely review!

  4. Hi Akylina! I am also a fellow English Literature major and I also really love this play! I went to see this play with my best friend at an outdoor theater in the summer and it was 90 degrees! I still really quite enjoyed and it was highly amusing! I am really interested in seeing the Greek version ! Can you get it on Netflix? Sincerely, Nora

    • That’s fantastic, Nora! The heat must have been unbearable, but I’m glad you enjoyed it anyway 🙂 Unfortunately, I don’t think the Greek version has been shown anywhere outside Greece :/ And it’s a pretty old production now, so I don’t think it’ll be available on TV anymore.

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