The Importance of Being Earnest

Subtitled ‘A Trivial Comedy for Serious People’, Oscar Wilde’s (1854–1900) masterpiece was first performed in 1895. In a letter to his friend Robert Ross, Wilde explained the philosophy of the play: ‘we should treat all trivial things very seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality’. The seemingly respectable Jack and the dandy figure Algernon court Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Having invented a reprobate ‘brother’, Ernest, Jack has led a double life in London using his sibling’s name. Wilde was satirizing and puncturing the hypocrisy and artificiality of Victorian society.

Manuscript draft of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Manuscript draft of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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Held by© Estate of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
Full title:
The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
Drama, Play
Victorian literature
Literary period:

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