The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde


“We should treat all trivial things in life very seriously, and all serious things of life with a sincere and studied triviality.” — Irish writer Oscar Wilde on his most famous, and enduring, stage play, The Importance of Being Earnest.


That sums it up. If you’re looking for something with plot, look elsewhere. If you’re seeking something with a “deep” message, ditto. On the other hand, if you want a social satire with some of the wittiest dialogue ever put to the page, here you go.

There are just five main characters in the play, two men and three women, most of them hamstrung by strict social conventions of the late 19th century, and all of them doing their best to subvert or undermine those restrictions. Their true feelings are exposed by Wilde’s dialogue, which features an endless series of contradictions, hypocrisies, and, frankly, nonsense.

It’s delightful.


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