The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest made its debut in London’s St. James Theatre in 1895. Well over 100 years later, this comedy still entertains crowds from across the world. The comedy follows protagonists who want to escape their burdens and social obligations, so they make up their own persona to escape.

Set in the “present,” the play is comprised of three main acts that set off the night’s events.

Act I opens with a young gentleman welcoming his best friend. Algernon Moncrieff, the epitome of a young gentleman, welcomes Jack Worthing into his one. Worthing wants to propose to his friend’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax.

What could have been a magical night turned into an interesting turn of events, as Worthing is asked to explain the inscription on his cigarette case. Worthing, called Ernest in the play, must then admit to living a double life.

The events lead to a confession by Algernon that he has a “friend” that he goes to visit to escape from social obligations that he doesn’t want to attend.

Jack earns the love of Gwendolen, but the love seems to do more with his name than love.

Act II includes Cecily, the heiress, working with Miss Prism. The Act is an interesting one, as Algernon arrives and pretends to be Ernest Worthing with the intent of charming Cecily. He succeeds, and the heiress begins to fall for him.

Jack decides that it’s time to put an end to his double life, while his friend Algernon wants to be renamed “Ernest.” Gwendolen arrives after she ran away from home and meets Cecily while the two men are absent from the scene.

The deception of Jack and Algernon are uncovered when the two women find out they’re both engaged to the man with the same name: Ernest.

The final act of the night’s events lead to a sort of chaos. Lady Bracknell finds out that Algernon and Cecily are engaged, and it’s found out that Cecily is wealthy. Gwendolen’s life is turned upside down, with her confessing that she can only love a man that is named Ernest.

Jack looks into his history and finds out that he would have been named after his father. The discovery leads to the revelation that Jack’s father was, in fact, named Ernest. The play ends on a high note will all of the cast, aside from Lady Bracknell, finding happiness with their newfound love.