The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest

A Trivial Comedy for Serious People

subjects: Plays, Playscripts, Classic & Pre-20th Century Plays, Humorous Fiction


The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy of manners set in Victorian England. Algernon lives in London and says he has a sick friend in the country. He uses visits to his imaginary friend to get out of things. His best friend, Ernest, is also Jack and is doing the exact same thing. Misunderstandings abound in this comedy. ‘The truth is rarely pure, and never simple.’, ‘…in married life three is company and two is none.’ Is this play a ‘unique work of art’ as Oscar Wilde believed? Or, as a first-night reviewer claimed in 1895, it ‘represents nothing, means nothing, is nothing’? This is for you to decide.


Morning–room in Algernon’s flat in Half–Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room.

[Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table, and after the music has ceased, Algernon enters.]

Algernon. Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?