Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Importance of Being Earnest: Funny, but Absolutely not Important

I've just finished Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest, which is the first Wilde play I ever read. My experience with Wilde has only been his super-sarcastic-but-tragic short stories, which I hate and love at the same time. So this feels new.

The plot involves a guy named Jack who leads a double life. In London, he is known as Ernest Worthing, while in the country he is John 'Jack' Worthing who has a brother named Ernest. His friend, Algernon, also leads a double life, which Jack calls “Bunburying,” because he makes up an invalid person named Bunbury to get away from things. Jack is in love with Algy's cousin, Gwendolen, and she is too, in love with him – or to put it more plainly, his name. Algy, curious to know his friend's life in the country, goes there as Ernest – Jack's brother. There he meets Cecily, a young girl under Jack's guardianship. He likes her, and she likes him as well – as Ernest. To make things more complicated, Gwen goes there as well to meet his fiance, Ernest. The rest is for you to read.

The play is witty and funny, but if you're looking for serious stuff or moral lesson, the book is not to be recommended. It mostly contains Wilde's smart sarcastic remarks on life and society. The plot itself is not so different from normal Shakespearean comedy, and therefore, enjoyable. Better still, it contains nothing inappropriate. It's perfectly funny, and not at all serious.

Having praised it so much, I still don't understand why I don't give it a good score on Goodreads. I only give 3 stars for it. Maybe it's because the language is so so simple and straightforward, not at all romantic or beautiful. Even though I don't really like it, it's still a worthy book to read. 


  1. Thanks for the review! I have been thinking about reading this, sounds good for a light read.

  2. This is one of my favourite plays. The first time I read it I laughed so much I couldn't stop! One does not look for beautiful language in Wilde's plays. One looks for a lot of wit. Another witty writer of Wilde's calibre is Bernard Shaw. I love Shaw! However, all is plays have a very serious vein running through them because they are all social commentaries. If you've never read Shaw I would highly recommend him. I would suggest Arms and the Man, a personal favourite, and Pygmalion. :)

  3. That's why I was enjoying this play, it's so funny, yet so sarcastic. Reading Wilde is just like watching a movie in my head. And Wilde is good in playing with words too, to add the sarcasm.