*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest.
The Importance of Being Earnest unlike other books I’ve read so far is a play with 3 acts. The first act is set in London and other two in the countryside. The Importance of Being Earnest begins when Jack Worthing visits Algernon. Jack Worthing lives in the country but when he is in the city, he goes by the name of Ernest. Jack wishes to be engaged to Gwendolen who knows him as Ernest. Jack is also the guardian of Cecily who is under the impression that Ernest is Jack’s brother. When Jack’s two worlds collide and Algernon is thrown into the mix, as you can imagine what follows is a hilarious comedy of errors.
The play is rather short and can be finished in two or three sittings, depending from person to person. The language is fairly easy to understand. Oscar Wilde has showcased his implicit and very unique sense of humor in this play with phrases like ‘Divorces are made in heaven’, clearly a take on the renowned ‘Marriages are made in heaven’.
Due to the medium of drama, and an understandable lack of narration, a lot of the dialogues serve to fill in the readers, which doesn’t translate very well while reading. The characters are few – Algernon, Jack Worthing, Cecily, Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell, Rev. Chausible, Miss Prism, Lane and Merriman but not much can be deciphered of their temperament. This may simply be because as it is with theater, a lot of their personality is interpreted by the expressions and style of the actor and by extension, by the actor’s perception of the characters. The play isn’t a profound or a serious one and characters being flat serve to that purpose.
There are some points during the story where is it easy to predict the next scene. The play is subtitled ‘Trivial Comedy for Serious People’ and while has a sarcastic and quirky sense of humor, the overall effect of reading this play (I speak only for reading and not for watching it live) at best remains average.