One of The Best Comedies Ever

A true classic, The Importance of Being Earnest never disappoints. This was my first reading, but I’d already seen the 2002 rendition with Colin Firth at least three times throughout my life [1]. Having already seen the same interpretation, it was hard not to imagine something similar to it while reading Wilde’s work, but reading does have some advantages. Despite being incredibly short, the jokes are packed so densely into the lines, that reading makes it easier to catch them than watching does. It’s also clear that the 2002 rendition adds a lot (primarily to the setting: i.e. the nightclub).

Also, I’ve begun to suspect that old lord Bracknell is a potential bunbury character. I’d never thought of this before, but the way lady Bracknell uses him to justify her decisions is reminiscent of Jack’s Ernest and Algy’s Bunbury, especially given that old lord Bracknell is always in bad health and never to be seen. Beyond that, from the reading it’s not obvious at all that Jack’s claim that his father’s name was Ernest might be false [2]. In the rendition Firth (playing Jack) pauses a little then closes the book before saying that the general’s name was Ernest [3]. He then delivers the line slowly, as if he were not being entirely truthful. Personally, I think that interpretation is actually better than the straightforward one of his name actually being Ernest. They lie throughout the entire storyline, and most characters’ supposed virtues are actually built on lies, so it makes sense for the virtue of being Ernest to also be of that nature.

Anyways, this is such a short work that you could read it in an hour, and I guarantee that you’ll have a fun time. This is definitely a must-read (or watch) if you’ve never seen it and enjoy humor that isn’t necessarily explicitly exploding in-your-face (i.e. deep-fried memes). I have not read Oscar Wilde’s other writings, but I think I’ll definitely explore them after this. I guess now I’ll leave you with some quotes (to use in your life, of course).

[1] Somehow, my family kept coming back to this movie. We watched it when I was a kid at least once, followed by once recently during the pandemic, and I convinced my teacher to show it to our 10th grade english class a little while back. (return)

[2] From the final scene in the final act (final page, as there is technically only one scene per act). (return)

[3] The camera is looking at the book, but pans away the second Jack arrives at the general’s line. From this we are led to believe there is something he’s hiding. (return)