The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

Length: 1126 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Importance of Being Earnest

A protagonist is described as the main character in the story. The
story line revolves around this one character and the events in his/
her life. In the Importance of Being Earnest, Jack Worthing is the
protagonist of the play because it is his character that dominates the
narrative. His pursuit to marry Gwendolen, and the conflicts and
struggles he goes up against to reach his ultimate goal, are traits
which develop his character into being the protagonist.

For a character to take on the role of protagonist, there always needs
to be conflict. Jack Worthing’s first conflict is getting the
approval to marry Gwendolen from her mother, Lady Bracknell. In the
beginning of the story when Jack, also referred to as Ernest, proposes
to Gwendolen, but is denied the ability to marry Gwendolen until he
has passed Lady Bracknell’s series of tests; what she sees as a
suitable husband for her daughter. This is shown through her statement
of: “I fell bound to tell you that you are not on my list of eligible
young men…however, I am quite ready to enter your name should your
answers be what a really affectionate mother acquires” (Wilde,1438).
Earnest informs her that he does not know anything from his childhood,
including who his parents are, and why he became an orphan; and now is
thought to be unacceptable suitor to marry her daughter, Gwendolen.
Lady Bracknell reinforces to Jack that “to be born, or at any rate
bred in a handbag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to
display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that
reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution”(Wilde,
1440), basically stating that having a hand bag for a parent is an
unacceptable “notion about family life” (Parker), and needed to find
out who his parents are before he can marry Gwendolen. It is this
sort of conflict that must arise in order for the play to pursue any
further. It is the role of the protagonist to ensure that he
continues on his pursuit in order to get what one wants, that being
the hand of Gwendolen. Jack lies and discoveries “of human freedom in
protean identity” (Parker, 185) which he “adopt[ed] identities to suit
the occasion” (parker, 185). All of these identities and secret lives
eventually led to Gwendolen’s hand but also the truth of who Jack
really was; the true importance of being Ernest, because being Ernest
gets him what he wants.

The title of the play “The Importance of being Earnest” shows
significance because this creates conflict and comedy between the

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Importance of Being Earnest." 123HelpMe.com. 25 Aug 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=99869>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde

- Throughout The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde plays around with the standard expectations along with the absence of compassion of a Victorian society in the 1890’s, he demonstrates this through several genres of comedy such as Melodrama, Comedy of Manners, Farce, dark humour and Irony, as well as portraying the themes, death and illness, in this play in a brilliance of unusual amount of references. Death is an unstoppable event that occurs in every individual’s life, and yet it is a very taboo topic as people rarely broach the subject because it causes incredible distress; it is certainly not a comical topic of conversation and one that is very seldom and rarely congratulated....   [tags: Comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
1354 words (3.9 pages)

The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde Essay

- Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ can be perceived as either a seemingly satirical piece aimed at the upper class society of the 1890s with a darker nature underneath or as a play “which imitates nothing, represents nothing” and “is nothing.” (William Archer). However, I believe it is the former – a belief fuelled by the comedic features used in the interview scene between Lady Bracknell and Jack Worthing. Wilde convinces the audience to believing that there is something empowering and different about Lady Bracknell as she interviews Jack as opposed to her husband, demonstrating that women in her generation are in charge despite the ‘separate spheres’ debate....   [tags: Comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
1219 words (3.5 pages)

The Importance Of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde Essays

- The Importance of Being Earnest, written by Oscar Wilde, pokes fun at the Victorian earnestness with sarcasm. The first piece of wit shown by Mr. Wilde is in the subtitle when he writes, “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.” He continues to make general quips and witty remarks throughout the play, all the while prodding at the Victorian people. Mr. Wilde’s purpose of writing this play is to show how strict society is, how superficial everyone is in society, and how certain individuals do not agree with their society....   [tags: Victorian era, The Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
1324 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

- In The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde revealed that animalistic traits can tint a character’s intellectual attributes. All of the characters possess an overwhelming desire which seems to diminish their morality. Wilde uses Jack Worthing’s animalistic behaviors to reveal that his animal self is damaging his intellectual self. The play is presented to show that the characters retain an exaggerated pleasure with food, which shows their pleasures in inanimate objects. Every character in the play is drawn into lustful relationships, thus mutilating their psychological self....   [tags: the importance of being earnest, oscar wilde]

Research Papers
1261 words (3.6 pages)

The Importance Of Being Earnest Driven By The Idea Of Serious Triviality

- To what extent is The Importance of Being Earnest driven by the idea of Serious Triviality. Oscar Wilde stated, in relation to his play The Importance of Being Earnest that “We should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.” This reflects the ideas behind the play and the way that Wilde presents his characters, and their actions throughout the course of the play. This philosophy influenced many important themes throughout the play, most notably the presentation of class, as well as Satire and Comic Pairings....   [tags: The Importance of Being Earnest, Sociology]

Research Papers
1263 words (3.6 pages)

Comic Devices in The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde Essay

- The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners that is used to parody social aspects of a Victorian society. Wilde does this by incorporating farcical elements that would appear ludicrous to an audience and satirises Victorian social norms and values. Wilde also subverts the ideals of marriage by undermining the concept as a whole and at the same time he inverts traditional gender roles and class in society. Wilde has included serious and controversial subjects such as the influence of religion which implies Wilde’s comedy is not a game but a serious criticism of Victorian society....   [tags: The Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
1687 words (4.8 pages)

The Dichotomy of Honesty in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

- Oscar Wilde's, "The Importance of Being Earnest" revolves around the dichotomy of the true definition of honesty versus the victorian definition of honesty. It is apparent that Wilde's opinion is that true honesty is expressed through being genuine to one's self as opposed to putting on a front as is important in victorian ideals. In this work, Wilde uses humor to off-set the seriousness of the theme of the story. One who has studied this work can also clearly see that Wilde is using sarcasm to say things that would not have been accepted by society if they were said bluntly....   [tags: The Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
537 words (1.5 pages)

Essay on Not Being Earnest in The Importance of Being Earnest

- Not Being Earnest in The Importance of Being Earnest While some critics contend that The Importance of Being Earnest is completely fanciful and has no relation to the real world, others maintain that Oscar Wilde's "trivial comedy for serious people" does make significant comments about social class and the institution of marriage. These observations include the prevalent utilization of deceit in everyday affairs. Indeed the characters and plot of the play appear to be entirely irreverent, thus lending weight to the comedic, fanciful aspect....   [tags: The Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
866 words (2.5 pages)

Absurdity and Satire in The Importance of Being Earnest Essay

- Absurdity and Satire in The Importance of Being Earnest In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, much is made of societal expectations, protocols, as well as the inversions of these expectations. A character, Jack Worthing, adopts an alter ego when going into town to avoid keeping up with the serious and morally upright behaviour that is expected of him as guardian to his eighteen-year-old ward, Cecily. Another character, Algernon Moncrieff, makes up an invalid friend Bunbury whose grave health conditions provide him with the excuse to escape to the country as and when he pleases....   [tags: Importance of Being Earnest]

Research Papers
1685 words (4.8 pages)

Essay on Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest

- Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest Setting: Begins in a flat in London then proceeds to a manor house in the countryside in the late 1800's. Plot: Two men, John Jack Earnest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, use the deception [a Bunbury] that both their names were Ernest, in order to secure marriage to the women they love, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Then there is the ultimate unraveling of their lies, which still ends in their impending nuptials.Cast of Key CharactersJohn Jack Ernest Worthing"Bon-vivant" [Jack to Algernon 2] Algernon is asking Jack what brought him to town....   [tags: Importance Being Earnest Wilde Essays]

Research Papers
4849 words (13.9 pages)

characters resulting in the climax of the play. Jack worthing created
an imaginary life for himself in the city; masquerading under the name
of Ernest. He Lead an exciting life as a bachelor and was able to be
free of his responsibility under the name of Jack. But when he
wanted to pursue Gwendolen, he wanted to put an end to his charades
and live a life of truth with her. He no longer wanted to lead a
double life. As a result of the leading a double life, Jack’s
character and multiple identities created sub plots with other
characters, somehow intertwining his life into their life stories. If
it was not for Jack’s double life, it would have never sparked the
curiosity of Algernon, who posed as the made-up ‘Ernest’, to want to
meet “little Cecily”, the name on the “Uncle Jack’s” cigarette case.
Nor would it have caused Cecily to fall in love with someone the name
of Ernest, rather she fell in love with the man that Jack made up,
this being his sick brother Ernest. “Parker describes the protagonist
as a character in the play who attains his goals through ‘elaborate
deception’ to ‘satisfy their impulses’. It is through their secret
identity that allows them success in attaining their ultimate goals”
(Parker, 175). In Jack’s case, his goal was Gwendolen.

Ultimately it is the importance of who Earnest is that gives him the
ability to attain his goal, that of marrying Gwendolen. He has
overcome the obstacles which denied him access to Gwendolen; that of
Lady Bracknell, and the creation of his double life. It is the double
life which he has been leading that created a conflict of who actually
Earnest is. It is the importance of being Earnest which creates
conflict between Gwendolen and Jack, who she thinks is Earnest. She
would not marry anyone who did not own the name Earnest, her “ideal
has always been to love someone of the name Earnest. There is
something in that name that inspires absolute confidence (Wilde,1437)
”. This is important because the whole play is based on Jack wanting
to pursue a life with Gwendolen. But if his name is not Ernest, she
would not marry him because she sees so highly in someone whose name
was just that. Jack even went to extremes of almost changing his name
so that he would have the acceptance of marrying Gwendolen. It is
ultimately revealed that he had been leading a true life to begin
with, he tells Gwendolen that “it is a terrible thing for a man to
find out suddenly that all of his life he has been speaking nothing
but the truth”. Jack attains his ends through lying, a lover of
deception and imposture, but it is through these deceptions which
serve their purpose (Parker, 183). The protagonist in the play is
someone who creates conflict, overcomes obstacles and ultimately
reaches an end result that satisfies his own interests. He figured
out who is parents were and he received Gwendolen’s hand in marriage,
after finding out he truly is an Ernest.

Oscar Wilde develops the character of Jack Worthing finally known as
Ernest John Worthing as the main character of the play. The plot,
conflict, and characters all revolved around Jack. Through his double
life, the importance of being Ernest, and his struggles to overcome
his now mother in law’s grasp of her daughter; has centered jack as
being the protagonist. It is evident in the play that Jack is the
protagonist because most, if not all of story and sub-plots involve or
are caused because of him in some factor. His imaginary lifestyle
although full of lies and deceit, created an ultimate truth and
coupled new loves together, resulting in a fresh and new life with
Gwendolen. In “The Importance of Being Earnest”, Jack Worthing is
the protagonist of the play because it is his character that dominates
the narrative. His pursuit to marry Gwendolen, and the conflicts and
struggles he goes up against to reach his ultimate goal, are traits
which develop his character into being the protagonist.
Return to 123HelpMe.com