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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

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Published by: Jasmi Mj on Mar 07, 2011
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The Importance of Being Earnest (Part 1,2,3) by Oscar Wilde



Act I of The Importance of Being Earnest (Part 1)
by Oscar Wilde First Act, Part 1 Scene 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? Lane. I didn t think it polite to listen, sir. Algernon. I m sorry for that, for your sake. I don t play accurately - any one can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life. Lane. Yes, sir. Algernon. And, speaking of the science of Life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell? Lane. Yes, sir. [Hands them on a salver.] Algernon. [Inspects them, takes two, and sits down on the sofa.] Oh!... by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreman and Mr. Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed. Lane. Yes, sir; eight bottles and a pint. Algernon. Why is it that at a bachelor s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information. Lane. I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine, sir. I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand. Algernon. Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that? Lane. I believe it IS a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person. Algernon. [Languidly.] I don t know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane. Lane. No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.

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Algernon. Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you. Lane. Thank you, sir. [Lane goes out.] Algernon. Lanes views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility. [Enter Lane.] Lane. Mr. Ernest Worthing. [Enter Jack.] [Lane goes out.] Algernon. How are you, my dear Ernest? What brings you up to town? Jack. Oh, pleasure, pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere? Eating as usual, I see, Algy! Algernon. [Stiffly.] I believe it is customary in good society to take some slight refreshment at five o clock. Where have you been since last Thursday? Jack. [Sitting down on the sofa.] In the country. Algernon. What on earth do you do there? Jack. [Pulling off his gloves.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring. Algernon. And who are the people you amuse? Jack. [Airily.] Oh, neighbours, neighbours. Algernon. Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire? Jack. Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them. Algernon. How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich.] By the way, Shropshire is your county, is it not? Jack. Eh? Shropshire? Yes, of course. Hallo! Why all these cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea? Algernon. Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen. Jack. How perfectly delightful! Algernon. Yes, that is all very well; but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won t quite approve of your being here. Jack. May I ask why?

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Jack. Algernon. Algernon. Well. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal.] And very good bread and butter it is too. Girls don t think it right. you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily. Algernon at once interferes. In the second place. Algy. My dear fellow..] Page 4 of 34 . The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted. Well. dear Algy. Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean. and I don t think you ever will be. [Advancing to table and helping himself. in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. One usually is. Why. It is very romantic to be in love. Jack. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. I thought you had come up for pleasure?. [Rings bell. It isn t. Jack. you have been eating them all the time. I call that business. Well. I really don t see anything romantic in proposing. You behave as if you were married to her already. one may be accepted. Jack. Your consent! Algernon. I am in love with Gwendolen. Divorces are made in Heaven . It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. that is nonsense! Algernon.] Have some bread and butter. Jack. She is my aunt. My dear fellow. You are not married to her already. Jack. How utterly unromantic you are! Algernon. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her. Oh.Algernon. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen. Jack. [Takes plate from below. It is a great truth. Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all. I have no doubt about that. I don t give my consent.] Jack.[Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Algernon. Then the excitement is all over. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you. Why on earth do you say that? Algernon. I ll certainly try to forget the fact. That is quite a different matter.. I believe. And before I allow you to marry her. by Cecily! I don t know any one of the name of Cecily. Gwendolen is my first cousin. the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter.] Jack. [Enter Lane. my dear fellow.] Please don t touch the cucumber sandwiches. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. Algernon. [Takes one and eats it. If ever I get married.

There is no good offering a large reward now that the thing is found. to an aunt being a small aunt. Do you mean to say you have had my cigarette case all this time? I wish to goodness you had let me know. Algernon. Worthing left in the smoking-room the last time he dined here. I happen to be more than usually hard up. Bring me that cigarette case Mr. what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall. Lane. Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn t.] Jack.] Algernon. Yes. Algernon takes it at once.] Algernon. Ernest. [Lane goes out. Charming old lady she is. but this isn t your cigarette case. Algernon. I wish you would offer one. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it. Yes. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! That is absurd! For Heaven s sake give me back my cigarette case. It isn t the sort of thing one should talk of in private. with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack.] However. I must say. your name isn t Jack at all. There is no objection. [Moving to sofa and kneeling upon it.] From little Cecily with her fondest love. should call her own nephew her uncle.] But why does she call herself little Cecily if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? [Reading. Algernon. I can t quite make out. but why an aunt.] My dear fellow. Well. Lives at Tunbridge Wells. for. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. I admit. Just give it back to me. I am quite aware of the fact. Jack. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn t read. too. [Retreating to back of sofa. Your aunt! Jack. I was very nearly offering a large reward. Jack. Of course it s mine. and I don t propose to discuss modern culture. it is Ernest.Algernon. [Enter Lane with the cigarette case on a salver. it makes no matter. Yes. Algy. if you want to know. I find that the thing isn t yours after all. Besides. and you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. I think that is rather mean of you. some aunts are not tall. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case. Yes. Algernon. and you said you didn t know any one of that name. no matter what her size may be. This cigarette case is a present from some one of the name of Cecily. [Moving to him. Jack. I simply want my cigarette case back. Algernon. Lane goes out. [Opens case and examines it. sir.] You have seen me with it a hundred times. Jack. Cecily happens to be my aunt. Page 5 of 34 . now that I look at the inscription inside. Jack. [Follows Algernon round the room. Well. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? From little Cecily.

Well. Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country? Jack. My dear fellow. It produces a false impression.. My dear Algy. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to Page 6 of 34 . I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist. Thomas Cardew. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. B. there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all. 4. Here is one of them. Yes. It isn t Ernest. You are the most earnestlooking person I ever saw in my life. In fact it s perfectly ordinary. You look as if your name was Ernest. Here it is. by the way? Jack. Cecily. my dear fellow! I have Bunburyed all over Shropshire on two separate occasions. Algernon. who lives at Tunbridge Wells. [Puts the card in his pocket. Miss Cecily Cardew. I suspected that. and the cigarette case was given to me in the country. You are not going to be invited. Ernest Worthing. that is exactly what dentists always do. calls you her dear uncle. go on. one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. You answer to the name of Ernest. When one is placed in the position of guardian.] Jack. Algernon. Old Mr.] Now produce your explanation. [Sits on sofa. Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean by a Bunburyist? Algernon. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn t Ernest. The Albany. Now. Where is that place in the country. it s Jack. my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. go on! Tell me the whole thing. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn t a dentist. or to Gwendolen. lives at my place in the country under the charge of her admirable governess. Jack. you had much better have the thing out at once. who adopted me when I was a little boy. That is nothing to you.] Jack. Jack. My dear Algy. You have always told me it was Ernest. Miss Prism. Algernon. Come. It s on your cards. dear boy. old boy. I ll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me.. produce my cigarette case first. you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. Algernon. Jack. Now. I ll reveal to you the meaning of that incomparable expression as soon as you are kind enough to inform me why you are Ernest in town and Jack in the country. made me in his will guardian to his grand-daughter. but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily. [Taking it from case. or to any one else. Algernon.Jack. Algernon. and pray make it improbable. Well. Well. You are hardly serious enough. who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate. I may tell you candidly that the place is not in Shropshire.] Mr. and I am quite sure of it now. I don t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. [Hands cigarette case. It s one s duty to do so.

Algernon. Don t try it. If it wasn t for Bunbury s extraordinary bad health. in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. It is simply washing one s clean linen in public. What on earth do you mean? Algernon. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. Besides. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr. Jack. and modern literature a complete impossibility! Jack. Indeed. which seems to me extremely problematic. I haven t asked you to dine with me anywhere to-night. You had much better dine with your Aunt Augusta. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It is very foolish of you. in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. That wouldn t be at all a bad thing. Cecily is a little too much interested in him. tonight. who lives in the Albany.. If Gwendolen accepts me. In the second place. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury... and sent down with either no woman at all. Page 7 of 34 . I dined there on Monday. for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week. I m not a Bunburyist at all. I know. or two. now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. Jack. and once a week is quite enough to dine with one s own relations. I am going to kill my brother.. who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. The truth is rarely pure and never simple. I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to. That is not very pleasant. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations. I haven t the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. my dear fellow. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it. Algernon. What you really are is a Bunburyist. Jack. You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest. Algernon. It looks so bad. and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. and gets into the most dreadful scrapes. In the third place. and if you ever get married. You should leave that to people who haven t been at a University. with your invalid friend who has the absurd name. They do it so well in the daily papers. Algernon. I want to tell you the rules. you will be very glad to know Bunbury. whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family. To begin with. That. Algernon. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know. my dear Algy. is the whole truth pure and simple. It is rather a bore. She will place me next Mary Farquhar. it is not even decent. Literary criticism is not your forte. So I am going to get rid of Ernest. indeed I think I ll kill him in any case.conduce very much to either one s health or one s happiness. Jack. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either. Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury. in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest. for instance. I wouldn t be able to dine with you at Willis s to-night.

] Lady Bracknell. I certainly won t want to know Bunbury. Enter Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen. Algernon. my dear young friend. I hadn t been there since her poor husband s death. [The sound of an electric bell is heard.] Page 8 of 34 . Algernon.] Ah! that must be Aunt Augusta. Now.] Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax. you are smart! Gwendolen. I am always smart! Am I not. Good afternoon. I never saw a woman so altered. Algernon. but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. so that you can have an opportunity for proposing to Gwendolen. Miss Fairfax. Only relatives.] Lady Bracknell.] That. I m sorry if we are a little late. Oh! I hope I am not that. if you want to. I m feeling very well.Jack. I suppose so. In fact the two things rarely go together. [Gwendolen and Jack sit down together in the corner. and I intend to develop in many directions. I hope you are behaving very well. it isn t easy to be anything nowadays. if I get her out of the way for ten minutes. [Algernon goes forward to meet them. Algernon. It would leave no room for developments. Jack. [Sententiously. Then your wife will. Aunt Augusta. don t try to be cynical. Algernon. Gwendolen. Worthing? Jack. For heaven s sake. Algernon. You re quite perfect. It s perfectly easy to be cynical. Yes. Jack. It is so shallow of them. is the theory that the corrupt French Drama has been propounding for the last fifty years. and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry. Mr. may I dinewith you tonight at Willis s? Jack. and that the happy English home has proved in half the time. [To Gwendolen. And now I ll have a cup of tea. That is nonsense. My dear fellow. [Goes over to tea-table. Yes. If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen. I hate people who are not serious about meals. [Enter Lane. Certainly. or creditors. [Sees Jack and bows to him with icy coldness. dear Algernon. and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me. that in married life three is company and two is none. but you must be serious about it.] Algernon.] Dear me. There s such a lot of beastly competition about. ever ring in that Wagnerian manner. Algernon. That s not quite the same thing. Aunt Augusta. You don t seem to realise. Lady Bracknell. she looks quite twenty years younger.

It is a great bore. Not even for ready money. This Mr. Thank you. [Gravely. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. No. Algernon. I consider it morbid. Health is the primary duty of life. not even for ready money. It really makes no matter.] They seem to think I should be with him. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. Won t you come and sit here. sir. No cucumbers! Lane. It s delightful to watch them.] Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially. Yes.] Algernon. Lane. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. It would put my table completely out. Lady Bracknell. of course. sir. Bunbury.. It certainly has changed its colour. I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury. Algernon. Algernon. I need hardly say. She is such a nice woman. It is very strange. from me. about there being no cucumbers. Lady Bracknell. [Frowning. Algernon.Lady Bracknell. Algernon. I shall have to give up the pleasure of dining with you to-night after all. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. but he never seems to take much notice. cannot say. Lane. Thanks. for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. Algernon. I am afraid.. poor Bunbury is a dreadful invalid. I am always telling that to your poor uncle. Gwendolen? Gwendolen. Aunt Augusta. a terrible disappointment to me. Well. I am greatly distressed. I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief. That will do. Lane. thank you. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health. Algernon. I went down twice. but the fact is I have just had a telegram to say that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. Lady Bracknell. Your uncle would have to dine upstairs. Fortunately he is accustomed to that. Algernon. Aunt Augusta. [Goes out.] I hope not. Lady Bracknell.] There were no cucumbers in the market this morning. to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday. mamma. From what cause I. Lady Bracknell. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. [Exchanges glances with Jack. who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now. I am going to send you down with Mary Farquhar. I must say. I ve quite a treat for you to-night. as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. sir. [Picking up empty plate in horror. I m quite comfortable where I am.] Thank you. Algernon. It is my last Page 9 of 34 . Algernon. that I think it is high time that Mr. and. and so attentive to her husband. [Algernon crosses and hands tea. Algernon.

Thank you. But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language. Algernon. people don t listen. and either look shocked. Gwendolen. [Rising.reception. Gwendolen remains behind. Gwendolen. [Lady Bracknell and Algernon go into the music-room. which. mamma. and one wants something that will encourage conversation. after a few expurgations. if one plays good music. Lady Bracknell. Certainly. It is very thoughtful of you. which is worse. in most cases. or laugh. and indeed. and following Algernon. You see. if you will kindly come into the next room for a moment. Algernon. which is vulgar. and if one plays bad music people don t talk. and I think I can promise you he ll be all right by Saturday. People always seem to think that they are improper.] I m sure the programme will be delightful. if he is still conscious.] Page 10 of 34 . particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say. Aunt Augusta. French songs I cannot possibly allow. I believe is so. But I ll run over the programme I ve drawn out. Of course the music is a great difficulty. was probably not much. you will accompany me. I ll speak to Bunbury.

[Coming over very slowly. I am sure you certainly would. he always lays stress on your German when he is leaving for town. you know how anxious your guardian is that you should improve yourself in every way. Child. We might have a good influence over him. Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious! Sometimes he is so serious that I think he cannot be quite well. as he was leaving for town yesterday. Basket chairs. Pray open it at page fifteen. We will repeat yesterday¶s lesson.] Cecily. [Calling. Miss Prism. Your German grammar is on the table. I wish Uncle Jack would allow that unfortunate young man. to come down here sometimes. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility.] But I don¶t like German.] Page 11 of 34 . and a table covered with books. and his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended in one so comparatively young as he is. [Miss Prism discovered seated at the table. Part 1 Scene Garden at the Manor House.] Your guardian enjoys the best of health. Cecily. [Drawing herself up. Miss Prism. Time of year. are set under a large yew-tree.] Miss Prism.Act II of The Importance of Being Earnest (Part 1) by Oscar Wilde Second Act. Cecily. He laid particular stress on your German. Cecily. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson. July. Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation. Worthing has many troubles in his life. It isn¶t at all a becoming language. I suppose that is why he often looks a little bored when we three are together. full of roses. his brother. Cecily! Surely such a utilitarian occupation as the watering of flowers is rather Moulton¶s duty than yours? Especially at a moment when intellectual pleasures await you. Miss Prism. You know German. Cecily is at the back watering flowers. [Cecily begins to write in her diary. Indeed. Mr. The garden. A flight of grey stone steps leads up to the house. and geology. an old-fashioned one. Cecily! I am surprised at you. You must remember his constant anxiety about that unfortunate young man his brother. Miss Prism. and things of that kind influence a man very much. Cecily.

Memory.] Dr. I wrote one myself in earlier days. The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned. child. dear Miss Prism.] I do not think that even I could produce any effect on a character that according to his own brother¶s admission is irretrievably weak and vacillating. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us. I really don¶t see why you should keep a diary at all. The good ended happily. you are not inattentive. [Enter Canon Chasuble. Alas! no. Dr. but I felt instinctively that you had a headache. Cecily. [Rising and advancing.Miss Prism. Cecily. Chasuble. Page 12 of 34 . Did you really. I suppose so. No. I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. when the Rector came in. Miss Prism has just been complaining of a slight headache. Chasuble. And was your novel ever published? Miss Prism. but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened.] But I see dear Dr. I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment¶s notice. If I didn¶t write them down.] I use the word in the sense of lost or mislaid. Cecily. Cecily. these speculations are profitless. and the bad unhappily. I should probably forget all about them. Miss Prism. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel. I am afraid I am. That is what Fiction means. Miss Prism. You must put away your diary. Miss Prism. But it seems very unfair. Cecily. I have not mentioned anything about a headache. Chasuble! This is indeed a pleasure. [Shaking her head. Yes. They depress me so much. and not about my German lesson. my dear Cecily. [Cecily starts. And how are we this morning? Miss Prism. I hope. I know that. As a man sows so let him reap. Cecily. is the diary that we all carry about with us. [Smiling. Indeed I am not sure that I would desire to reclaim him. well? Cecily. I think it would do her so much good to have a short stroll with you in the Park. I trust. Cecily. you are. Cecily. Oh. Miss Prism. Cecily. Chasuble coming up through the garden. Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don¶t like novels that end happily. Cecily. To your work. Cecily.] Chasuble. Miss Prism. and couldn¶t possibly have happened. Indeed I was thinking about that.

Ah yes. Cecily. Worthing was in town? Merriman. Chasuble. I think. I mentioned that you and Miss Prism were in the garden. Miss Prism. Miss Prism. Miss Prism. W. It is somewhat too sensational. I suppose you had better talk to the housekeeper about a room for him. Ask Mr. That is strange. I feel rather frightened. Ernest Worthing.] A classical allusion merely. Egeria? My name is Laetitia. Doctor. He has brought his luggage with him. Mr. horrid German! [Enter Merriman with a card on a salver. . He said he was anxious to speak to you privately for a moment. Worthing. I would hang upon her lips. I suppose. [Merriman goes off.¶ Uncle Jack¶s brother! Did you tell him Mr. Miss. I shall see you both no doubt at Evensong? Miss Prism. [Bowing. I am so afraid he will look just like every one else. he usually likes to spend his Sunday in London. as. B.] µMr. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. Cecily.My metaphor was drawn from bees. Yes. Yes. [Takes the card and reads it. We might go as far as the schools and back. Chasuble. Merriman. He is not one of those whose sole aim is enjoyment.] Cecily. 4. That would be delightful. by all accounts. Ahem! Mr. I have never met any really wicked person before. Chasuble. The Albany. Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism¶s pupil. I find I have a headache after all. and a walk might do it good. He seemed very much disappointed. Ernest Worthing has just driven over from the station. that unfortunate young man his brother seems to be.] Cecily. you will read your Political Economy in my absence. But I must not disturb Egeria and her pupil any longer. has not returned from town yet? Miss Prism.] I spoke metaphorically. Miss.] Merriman. We do not expect him till Monday afternoon. Page 13 of 34 . Cecily. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side. [Goes down the garden with Dr. I will have a stroll with you.Chasuble.] Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography! Horrid. [Picks up books and throws them back on table. Ernest Worthing to come here. drawn from the Pagan authors. Chasuble. [Miss Prism glares. With pleasure. with pleasure. dear Doctor.

Australia! I¶d sooner die. I certainly wouldn¶t let Jack buy my outfit. Cecily.. I don¶t think you will require neckties. Algernon. Couldn¶t you miss it anywhere but in London? Algernon. I have been very bad in my own small way. In fact. if one wants to retain any sense of the beauty of life. I see from your card. I don¶t think you should be so proud of that. Cecily. now you mention the subject. cousin Cecily. I am glad to hear it. are Uncle Jack¶s brother. though I am sure it must have been very pleasant. Cecily. Algernon. my cousin Ernest. That would be hypocrisy. Oh! I am not really wicked at all.] Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless. Cecily. No: the appointment is in London. I have a business appointment that I am anxious.] He does! Algernon. pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. to miss? Cecily.. [Algernon is rather taken aback.] But I am your cousin Cecily. I am not little. I hope you have not been leading a double life. Page 14 of 34 . You mustn¶t think that I am wicked. In fact. If you are not. Well. I can¶t understand how you are here at all. He has gone up to buy your outfit. Algernon. Algernon. I believe I am more than usually tall for my age. how important it is not to keep a business engagement. I know. of course. Your emigrating. You are under some strange mistake. but still I think you had better wait till Uncle Jack arrives. He has no taste in neckties at all. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia. [Looks at her in amazement. It is much pleasanter being here with you.[Enter Algernon. Cecily. Algernon.] You are my little cousin Cecily. my wicked cousin Ernest. I am obliged to go up by the first train on Monday morning. Cecily. Algernon. [Raising his hat. About my what? Cecily. Algernon. That is a great disappointment. Cecily. then you have certainly been deceiving us all in a very inexcusable manner. I know he wants to speak to you about your emigrating. I¶m sure. Uncle Jack won¶t be back till Monday afternoon. You. very gay and debonnair. Algernon.

Miss Prism says that all good looks are a snare. if you don¶t mind. and Australia. Algernon. Algernon. Yes. Cecily. I don¶t think I would care to catch a sensible man. are not particularly encouraging. It is rather Quixotic of you. Cecily. well! The accounts I have received of Australia and the next world. That is why I want you to reform me. I¶m afraid I¶m not that. I should have remembered that when one is going to lead an entirely new life. Cecily. Why? [Cuts a flower. Well. that you would have to choose between this world. Cecily. this afternoon.Cecily. but are you good enough for it? Algernon. Cecily. I¶d sooner have a pink rose. Oh. Well. Page 15 of 34 . I¶m afraid I¶ve no time. one requires regular and wholesome meals. Algernon. You are looking a little worse. I will. A Marechal Niel? [Picks up scissors.] You are the prettiest girl I ever saw. Won¶t you come in? Algernon.] Algernon. Might I have a buttonhole first? I never have any appetite unless I have a buttonhole first. Cecily. Cecily. Algernon. No. Miss Prism never says such things to me. I shouldn¶t know what to talk to him about. would you mind my reforming myself this afternoon? Cecily. How thoughtless of me. cousin Cecily. Cecily. [Cecily puts the rose in his buttonhole. They are a snare that every sensible man would like to be caught in. That is because I am hungry. I feel better already. Because you are like a pink rose.] Algernon. Algernon. Algernon. This world is good enough for me. But I think you should try. Cousin Cecily. Thank you. Then Miss Prism is a short-sighted old lady. Oh. he said at dinner on Wednesday night. Cecily. I don¶t think it can be right for you to talk to me like that. cousin Cecily. the next world. You might make that your mission.

Chasuble. with crape hatband and black gloves. I do not deserve so neologistic a phrase. Young women are green. Your brother Ernest dead? Page 16 of 34 . You should get married. And often. Miss Prism. Maturity can always be depended on.] I spoke horticulturally. Chasuble. this very celibacy leads weaker vessels astray. Mr. [Shakes Miss Prism¶s hand in a tragic manner. Chasuble.[They pass into the house. But where is Cecily? Chasuble. I¶ve been told. [With a scholar¶s shudder.] That is obviously the reason why the Primitive Church has not lasted up to the present day.] Miss Prism. The precept as well as the practice of the Primitive Church was distinctly against matrimony. This is indeed a surprise. We did not look for you till Monday afternoon. dear Dr.] Dead! Chasuble. a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation. Mr. No married man is ever attractive except to his wife. Chasuble starts. dear Doctor. Worthing.] Miss Prism.] I have returned sooner than I expected. Chasuble return. Men should be more careful. not even to her. Chasuble. More shameful debts and extravagance? Chasuble. Dr. [Enter Jack slowly from the back of the garden. Miss Prism. Worthing! Chasuble. Dear Mr. that by persistently remaining single. You are too much alone.a womanthrope. Worthing? Miss Prism. But is a man not equally attractive when married? Miss Prism. never! Chasuble. A misanthrope I can understand . Perhaps she followed us to the schools. [Shaking his head. And you do not seem to realise. [Sententiously. Miss Prism.] Believe me. My metaphor was drawn from fruits. Miss Prism and Dr. I trust this garb of woe does not betoken some terrible calamity? Jack. He is dressed in the deepest mourning. That depends on the intellectual sympathies of the woman. Ripeness can be trusted. My brother. Jack. I hope you are well? Chasuble. Still leading his life of pleasure? Jack. [Dr.

as a charity sermon on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Discontent among the Upper Orders. As a man sows. It is. in fact. as in the present case. [Bitterly. Were you with him at the end? Jack. Ah! that reminds me. Chasuble. Miss Prism. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts.] People who live entirely for pleasure usually are. Jack. Worthing. Will the interment take place here? Jack. on days of humiliation and festal days. Jack. confirmations. christenings. Chasuble. Chasuble. I have often spoken to the poorer classes on the subject. aren¶t you? Miss Prism. He died abroad. charity! None of us are perfect. Chasuble? I suppose you know how to christen all right? [Dr. joyful. In Paris! [Shakes his head. [Raising his hand. A severe chill. I had a telegram last night from the manager of the Grand Hotel. it seems. What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it. I regret to say. unmarried. Miss Prism.] My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion. Chasuble looks astounded. No. Dr.] I mean. [All sigh. Very sad indeed. Quite dead. Mr. But is there any particular infant in whom you are interested. so shall he reap. dear Miss Prism.] I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last. or. [Jack presses his hand convulsively. you are continually christening. one of the Rector¶s most constant duties in this parish.] I have preached it at harvest celebrations.Jack. You have at least the consolation of knowing that you were always the most generous and forgiving of brothers. in Paris. Mr. was much struck by some of the analogies I drew. The Bishop. No. Oh yes. Miss Prism. but it is a sad. Chasuble. was he not? Jack. Was the cause of death mentioned? Jack. I believe.] Charity. But they don¶t seem to know what thrift is. I offer you my sincere condolence. He seems to have expressed a desire to be buried in Paris. Page 17 of 34 . Chasuble. Worthing? Your brother was. You would no doubt wish me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic affliction next Sunday. sad blow. of course. Poor Ernest! He had many faults. Chasuble. who was present. The last time I delivered it was in the Cathedral. you mentioned christenings I think. distressing.

[Enter Cecily from the house. Who do you think is in the dining-room? Your brother! Page 18 of 34 . Chasuble. Uncle Jack! Oh. At what hour would you wish the ceremony performed? Jack. Oh! I don¶t see much fun in being christened along with other babies. But what horrid clothes you have got on! Do go and change them. Sprinkling is all that is necessary. I don¶t remember anything about it. Poor Jenkins the carter. Mr. Cecily! Chasuble. or indeed I think advisable.] Cecily. My child! my child! [Cecily goes towards Jack. Chasuble. Jack. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. Worthing. Not at all. perfectly! In fact I have two similar ceremonies to perform at that time.] And now. Uncle Jack? Do look happy! You look as if you had toothache. But have you any grave doubts on the subject? Jack. But surely. Our weather is so changeable. What is the matter. Perfectly. The sprinkling. or if you think I am a little too old now. Chasuble. A case of twins that occurred recently in one of the outlying cottages on your own estate. Of course I don¶t know if the thing would bother you in any way. No! the fact is. dear Mr. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. Chasuble.Jack. indeed. Would half-past five do? Chasuble. you have been christened already? Jack. dear Doctor. You need have no apprehensions. I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. I certainly intend to have. Miss Prism. I am pleased to see you back. he kisses her brow in a melancholy manner. the immersion of adults is a perfectly canonical practice. Worthing. and I have got such a surprise for you. if you have nothing better to do. I am very fond of children. Admirably! Admirably! [Takes out watch. Oh. Miss Prism. Immersion! Chasuble. This seems to me a blessing of an extremely obvious kind. I would like to be christened myself. It would be childish. and. I might trot round about five if that would suit you. a most hard-working man.] Cecily. Jack. this afternoon. But it is not for any child.

Brother John. Jack. [Jack glares at him and does not take his hand. Jack. I won¶t have him talk to you about Bunbury or about anything else. You couldn¶t be so heartless as to disown him. you are not going to refuse your own brother¶s hand? Jack. It is enough to drive one perfectly frantic. He arrived about half an hour ago. he has told me all about poor Mr. won¶t you.Jack. Your brother Ernest. [Enter Algernon and Cecily hand in hand. These are very joyful tidings.] Chasuble. Jack. My brother is in the dining-room? I don¶t know what it all means. They come slowly up to Jack. don¶t say that. Uncle Jack. Who? Cecily. Jack. Bunbury. Oh! he has been talking about Bunbury. Algernon. I think it is perfectly absurd. He knows perfectly well why. Oh. do be nice. Uncle Jack? [Runs back into the house. I¶ll tell him to come out. Yes.] Algernon. Of course I admit that the faults were all on my side. Uncle Jack. There is some good in every one. Miss Prism. Cecily.] Cecily. Good heavens! [Motions Algernon away. And you will shake hands with him. Never forgive me? Page 19 of 34 . Jack. Nothing will induce me to take his hand. After we had all been resigned to his loss. has he? Cecily. Cecily. especially considering it is the first time I have come here. I have come down from town to tell you that I am very sorry for all the trouble I have given you. and leaves the pleasures of London to sit by a bed of pain. and his terrible state of health. and that I intend to lead a better life in the future.] Jack. Cecily. What nonsense! I haven¶t got a brother. Bunbury whom he goes to visit so often. And surely there must be much good in one who is kind to an invalid. I think his coming down here disgraceful. However badly he may have behaved to you in the past he is still your brother. I expected a more enthusiastic welcome. Uncle Jack. if you don¶t shake hands with Ernest I will never forgive you. Ernest has just been telling me about his poor invalid friend Mr. But I must say that I think that Brother John¶s coldness to me is peculiarly painful. his sudden return seems to me peculiarly distressing. Bunbury! Well.

What a fearful liar you are. My little task of reconciliation is over. Cecily. Algernon. Yes. Page 20 of 34 . is it not. sir. I have put Mr. order the dog-cart at once. Yes. What? Merriman. you have. Your duty as a gentleman calls you back. Merriman. It¶s pleasant. Cecily. You have done a beautiful action to-day. Yes. [Enter Merriman. sir. and a large luncheon-basket. Ernest has been suddenly called back to town. Certainly. sir. never! Jack. Jack. Merriman. you will come with us. [Shakes with Algernon and glares. dear child. Mr. Algernon. Jack. Mr. Ernest¶s luggage.] Chasuble. Jack. Cecily. I feel very happy. I suppose that is all right? Jack.boxes. We must not be premature in our judgments. this is the last time I shall ever do it. I am afraid I can¶t stay more than a week this time. two hat. I don¶t allow any Bunburying here. [They all go off except Jack and Algernon. Chasuble. Three portmanteaus. Miss Prism. Jack. [Goes back into the house. Ernest¶s things in the room next to yours. sir. His luggage? Merriman. You young scoundrel. I have unpacked it and put it in the room next to your own.Cecily. Miss Prism.] Algernon. a dressing-case. Well. I haven¶t heard any one call me. Jack. to see so perfect a reconciliation? I think we might leave the two brothers together. I have not been called back to town at all. never. you must get out of this place as soon as possible.] Merriman.] Jack. Miss Prism. Never. Algy.

He¶s going to send me away. by the four-five train. Jack. and I hope you will have a pleasant journey back to town.Algernon. I suppose. Jack. Ah. I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.] Algernon. [Enter Cecily at the back of the garden. Jack. If I were in mourning you would stay with me. I thought you were with Uncle Jack. [Goes into the house.dressed as you are. I don¶t like your clothes. Oh. Well. Cecily. Jack. Algernon. Algernon. You are not to talk of Miss Cardew like that. If I am occasionally a little over-dressed. I call it grotesque. I should think it very unkind if you didn¶t. You are certainly not staying with me for a whole week as a guest or anything else. you have got to catch the four-five. Jack. there she is. Well. Cecily is a darling. I think it has been a great success. Jack. and make arrangements for another Bunbury. will you go if I change my clothes? Algernon. My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree. You look perfectly ridiculous in them. Algernon. Algernon. He¶s gone to order the dog-cart for me. I don¶t like it. It would be most unfriendly. She picks up the can and begins to water the flowers. Why on earth don¶t you go up and change? It is perfectly childish to be in deep mourning for a man who is actually staying for a whole week with you in your house as a guest. I merely came back to water the roses. Page 21 of 34 . and your presence in my garden utterly absurd. and that is everything.. You have got to leave. Oh. has not been a great success for you.] But I must see her before I go. Yes. at any rate. Cecily. I never saw anybody take so long to dress. if you are not too long. as you call it. Well. Your vanity is ridiculous. that is better than being always over. Well. Algernon. I can quite understand that.. This Bunburying. is he going to take you for a nice drive? Algernon. However. I certainly won¶t leave you so long as you are in mourning. and with such little result. your conduct an outrage. I¶m in love with Cecily.

The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. Cecily. Algernon. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable. I am afraid so. It¶s a very painful parting. Thank you. It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. Page 22 of 34 . Then have we got to part? Algernon.Cecily.

looking out into the garden. That looks like repentance. Cecily. I have something very particular to ask you. seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left. Why did you pretend to be my guardian¶s brother? Algernon. This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect. That¶s very forward of them. But we will not be the first to speak. They whistle some dreadful popular air from a British Opera. [After a pause.] Gwendolen. Certainly. Cecily. They¶re looking at us. Certainly not. Gwendolen. Much depends on your reply. kindly answer me the following question. Moncrieff. Gwendolen. They have been eating muffins. Mr. Mr. Gwendolen. It¶s the only thing to do now.] Gwendolen. Cecily. Page 23 of 34 . Let us preserve a dignified silence. In order that I might have an opportunity of meeting you. Gwendolen. Cecily. [Enter Jack followed by Algernon. The fact that they did not follow us at once into the house. Couldn¶t you cough? Cecily. [Gwendolen and Cecily are at the window. as any one else would have done. Gwendolen. But I haven¶t got a cough. your common sense is invaluable. A most distasteful one. Worthing. Cecily.] They don¶t seem to notice us at all. Gwendolen. What effrontery! Cecily.Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde Third Act Scene Morning-room at the Manor House. They¶re approaching.

That seems to me to have the stamp of truth upon it. In matters of grave importance.] Gwendolen and Cecily [Speaking together. [To Gwendolen. Mr. Gwendolen. Cecily. Worthing¶s. Certainly. style.Cecily. if you can believe him. I mean no. There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender. An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. [To Jack. Gwendolen. True! I had forgotten. True. Yes. Gwendolen. I have the gravest doubts upon the subject. Then you think we should forgive them? Cecily. I don¶t. [To Algernon.] For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing? Jack. Moncrieff said. Cecily. Will you take the time from me? Cecily. Cecily. His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity. That is all! Jack and Algernon [Speaking together. not sincerity is the vital thing. what explanation can you offer to me for pretending to have a brother? Was it in order that you might have an opportunity of coming up to town to see me as often as possible? Jack. I am more than content with what Mr. Yes. I am. Gwendolen. [Moving to Cecily. dear.] That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation. Can you doubt it. does it not? Gwendolen. But I intend to crush them.] To please me you are ready to face this fearful ordeal? Algernon.] Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier.] Our Christian names! Is that all? But we are going to be christened this afternoon. Could we not both speak at the same time? Gwendolen. This is not the moment for German scepticism. I am! Page 24 of 34 . Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one. Cecily.] Their explanations appear to be quite satisfactory. [Gwendolen beats time with uplifted finger. Worthing. Miss Fairfax? Gwendolen. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. especially Mr.

We are. Gwendolen. as regards Algernon!. I do not propose to undeceive him. Lady Bracknell. In fact..] Cecily. How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! Where questions of selfsacrifice are concerned. Gwendolen! What does this mean? Gwendolen. whose confidence I purchased by means of a small coin. Yes. Her unhappy father is. [To Jack. Sit down immediately. you will clearly understand that all communication between yourself and my daughter must cease immediately from this moment.] Lady Bracknell. Hesitation of any kind is a sign of mental decay in the young. under the impression that she is attending a more than usually lengthy lecture by the University Extension Scheme on the Influence of a permanent income on Thought.] Darling! Algernon. of my daughter¶s sudden flight by her trusty maid.] Merriman. I would consider it wrong. seeing the situation. Aunt Augusta.. Lady Bracknell. But of course.] Apprised. When he enters he coughs loudly. Come here. Exit Merriman. Ahem! Ahem! Lady Bracknell! Jack. sir. Bunbury resides? Algernon. men are infinitely beyond us. Dead! When did Mr. [Turns to Jack. May I ask if it is in this house that your invalid friend Mr. On this point. You are nothing of the kind.Gwendolen. The couples separate in alarm. [Stammering. I am firm. [Clasps hands with Algernon. Jack. Indeed I have never undeceived him on any question. Good heavens! [Enter Lady Bracknell.] Oh! No! Bunbury doesn¶t live here.] Darling! [They fall into each other¶s arms. I am glad to say. sir. I followed her at once by a luggage train. Page 25 of 34 . Lady Bracknell. Bunbury is dead. Jack. I am engaged to be married to Gwendolen Lady Bracknell! Lady Bracknell.] [Enter Merriman. Bunbury die? His death must have been extremely sudden. as indeed on all points. Sit down. [To Cecily. Worthing. of physical weakness in the old. They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing. mamma. Algernon! Algernon. Merely that I am engaged to be married to Mr. Bunbury is somewhere else at present. And now.

Algernon. Thomas Cardew of 149 Belgrave Square.Algernon. and Markby. Moncrieff and I are engaged to be married. [In a clear. my ward. N. They are open to your inspection. and the Sporran.W. If so. [Lady Bracknell bows coldly to Cecily. may I ask.B. Mr. Lady Bracknell. is Miss Cardew at all connected with any of the larger railway stations in London? I merely desire information. I have carefully preserved the Court Guides of the period. Lady Bracknell. Gervase Park. Jack. but the number of engagements that go on seems to me considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance. Page 26 of 34 . Lady Bracknell. I think some preliminary inquiry on my part would not be out of place. Lady Bracknell. He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action. Worthing. even in tradesmen. Until yesterday I had no idea that there were any families or persons whose origin was a Terminus. Surrey. Mr. cold voice. however. Three addresses always inspire confidence. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon. Markby. Markby. Dorking. Mr. Bunbury. Lady Bracknell. [Airily. I am engaged to be married to Cecily. [With a shiver. [Grimly.so Bunbury died. Fifeshire.] Miss Cardew is the grand-daughter of the late Mr.] I do not know whether there is anything peculiarly exciting in the air of this particular part of Hertfordshire.. Aunt Augusta. but restrains himself. and acted under proper medical advice. [Jack looks perfectly furious. Lady Bracknell. My dear Aunt Augusta.] I have known strange errors in that publication. that is what I mean . That sounds not unsatisfactory. That lady is Miss Cecily Cardew. he was quite exploded. And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr. Bunbury? Oh. who is that young person whose hand my nephew Algernon is now holding in what seems to me a peculiarly unnecessary manner? Jack. I beg your pardon? Cecily. Worthing. Bunbury was interested in social legislation.] Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon.] Jack. I mean he was found out! The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live. he is well punished for his morbidity. crossing to the sofa and sitting down. But what proof have I of their authenticity? Jack. Lady Bracknell. S. What did he die of? Algernon. Lady Bracknell. I am glad. Lady Bracknell.] Algernon. Miss Cardew¶s family solicitors are Messrs. Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr.

Indeed I am told that one of the Mr. But we can soon alter all that. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities. Lady Bracknell! I have also in my possession. Page 27 of 34 . quite as I expected. I suppose I must give my consent. prettiest girl in the whole world. [Glares at Jack for a few moments. Mr. looks at her watch.] Come over here. [To Cecily. There are distinct social possibilities in your profile. The chin a little higher.] How extremely kind of you. Oh! about a hundred and thirty thousand pounds in the Funds. [Sitting down again. of course you know that Algernon has nothing but his debts to depend upon. Algernon! Algernon. both the German and the English variety. Lady Bracknell. So pleased to have seen you. Cecily is the sweetest. sweet child.] A moment. So far I am satisfied. Well. to Cecily. dear. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. with a practised smile. [Very irritably. Yes. And after six months nobody knew her. But I never dreamed for a moment of allowing that to stand in my way. dearest. and Markby? A firm of the very highest position in their profession. Markby. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell.] No.] Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple. in an age of surfaces. A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady.] Gwendolen! the time approaches for our departure. the side view is what I want. just at present. Algernon. Markby. Aunt Augusta! Lady Bracknell. and the measles. Markby¶s is occasionally to be seen at dinner parties. now that I look at her. But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. and after three months her own husband did not know her. Goodbye. Lady Bracknell. I see. Never speak disrespectfully of Society.Lady Bracknell. dear. Jack. and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. whooping cough. [Cecily turns completely round. baptism. though perhaps somewhat too exciting for a young girl. Only people who can¶t get into it do that. And I don¶t care twopence about social possibilities. registration. Worthing. certificates of Miss Cardew¶s birth. you will be pleased to hear. I am not myself in favour of premature experiences. Mr. I regret to say. [Cecily goes across. There are distinct social possibilities in Miss Cardew¶s profile. confirmation. Then bends. They are worn very high. We have not a moment to lose.] Kindly turn round. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing. Ah! A life crowded with incident.] Yes.] Dear child. I had better ask you if Miss Cardew has any little fortune? Jack. Algernon. Worthing. vaccination. Lady Bracknell. Jack. [To Cecily. any of the qualities that last. We live. [Cecily presents her profile. That is all. As a matter of form. [Rises. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. and improve with time.

he succeeded in the course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward. I distinctly told him so myself yesterday afternoon. Jack. It pains me very much to have to speak frankly to you. after careful consideration I have decided entirely to overlook my nephew¶s conduct to you. which I think is never advisable. µ89. I may almost say an ostentatiously. Untruthful! My nephew Algernon? Impossible! He is an Oxonian. that he was perfectly well aware from the first that I have no brother. Cecily. Lady Bracknell. Aunt Augusta. I¶ve just been informed by my butler. Cecily. and she cannot marry without my consent until she comes of age. And what makes his conduct all the more heartless is. eligible young man. but the fact is that I do not approve at all of his moral character.] Lady Bracknell. The marriage. Aunt Augusta. Aunt Augusta. Lady Bracknell. I beg your pardon for interrupting you. Aunt Augusta. Upon what grounds may I ask? Algernon is an extremely. Under an assumed name he drank.] Thank you. I am Miss Cardew¶s guardian. Lady Bracknell. Worthing. Brut. Cecily. Ahem! Mr. I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter. Lady Bracknell. Thank you. [Kisses her. I decline to give my consent. about your nephew. that I never had a brother. Continuing his disgraceful deception. Jack. you may kiss me! Cecily. wine I was specially reserving for myself. Thank you. That is very generous of you. To speak frankly. but he looks everything. Thank you. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Algernon. This afternoon during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance. Page 28 of 34 . I suspect him of being untruthful. and that I don¶t intend to have a brother. I think. My own decision. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other¶s character before marriage. Jack. You may also address me as Aunt Augusta for the future. He subsequently stayed to tea. he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. is unalterable. I am not in favour of long engagements. Lady Bracknell. however. Lady Bracknell.Algernon. an entire pint bottle of my Perrier-Jouet. and devoured every single muffin. He has nothing. had better take place quite soon. [Algernon and Cecily look at him in indignant amazement. Lady Bracknell. but this engagement is quite out of the question. What more can one desire? Jack. Thank you. Lady Bracknell. That consent I absolutely decline to give. not even of any kind.

Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. Yes. but I couldn¶t wait all that time. remained thirty-five for years. [To Cecily. Lady Bracknell. You know I could. even to be married. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty. Jack. a matter of any importance. the matter is entirely in your own hands. So I don¶t think your guardian¶s consent is.. I know. Mr. but I always admit to twenty when I go to evening parties.Lady Bracknell. My dear Mr. It always makes me rather cross. Lady Bracknell. is quite out of the question. [Rising and drawing herself up. Cecily.a remark which I am bound to say seems to me to show a somewhat impatient nature . Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to. That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. Moncrieff. Well. Worthing. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have. Page 29 of 34 . sweet child. Jack. Cecily.] Eighteen. Lady Bracknell.] Come here. Of course I could. Lady Bracknell. dear? Cecily. I am really only eighteen. [In a meditative manner. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. Cecily. I don¶t know. But my dear Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. I felt it instinctively. Pray excuse me. I hate waiting even five minutes for anybody. after all. Indeed. Algernon. Well. I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present.] How old are you. but it is only fair to tell you that according to the terms of her grandfather¶s will Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till she is thirty-five. Cecily? Cecily. Jack. it will not be very long before you are of age and free from the restraints of tutelage. as Miss Cardew states positively that she cannot wait till she is thirty-five . and waiting. I will most gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward. [Cecily goes over. for interrupting you again. of their own free choice.. no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. could you wait for me till I was thirty-five? Algernon. which was many years ago now. The moment you consent to my marriage with Gwendolen. Then what is to be done.] You must be quite aware that what you propose is out of the question.I would beg of you to reconsider your decision. There will be a large accumulation of property. I am not punctual myself. but admitting to twenty at evening parties. It looks so calculating. but I do like punctuality in others. Algy. You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration.

Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect. [Interposing. Yes. Chasuble.] Miss Prism! Did I hear you mention a Miss Prism? Chasuble.] She approaches. and the very picture of respectability. Algernon. Mr. as your present mood seems to be one peculiarly secular. It is obviously the same person. They savour of the heretical views of the Anabaptists. of course. That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendolen. [Starting. I am grieved to hear such sentiments from you. madam. Lady Bracknell. May I ask what position she holds in your household? Chasuble. Let her be sent for. can choose for himself. Pray allow me to detain you for a moment.] Miss Prism. Lady Bracknell. The christenings. However. Chasuble. and pointing to Jack and Algernon. [Looking rather puzzled. Jack. Page 30 of 34 . sir! Is not that somewhat premature? Chasuble. Everything is quite ready for the christenings. Chasuble. Lady Bracknell. [Enter DR. it would be of much practical value to either of us. [Looking off. views that I have completely refuted in four of my unpublished sermons. Lady Bracknell. [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five. Am I to understand then that there are to he no christenings at all this afternoon? Jack. [Severely. At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon. I must see her at once.] Come. Dr.] I am a celibate.] Chasuble. I am on my way to join her.] Both these gentlemen have expressed a desire for immediate baptism. I will return to the church at once. This matter may prove to be one of vital importance to Lord Bracknell and myself. I don¶t think that. if not six. dear. Worthing. I will not hear of such excesses.Lady Bracknell. Indeed. [Pulls out her watch.] She is the most cultivated of ladies. trains. I forbid you to be baptized. she is nigh. [Somewhat indignantly. has been for the last three years Miss Cardew¶s esteemed governess and valued companion. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money. Chasuble. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform. remotely connected with education? Chasuble. In spite of what I hear of her. Lady Bracknell. as things are now. Chasuble. I have just been informed by the pew-opener that for the last hour and a half Miss Prism has been waiting for me in the vestry. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell.

Chasuble. I will wait here for you all my life. Miss Prism. I had also with me a somewhat old.] Prism! [Miss Prism bows her head in shame. I must retire to my room for a moment. a day that is for ever branded on my memory. I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London. Prism. I was told you expected me in the vestry. I need hardly tell you that in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur. but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. Lady Bracknell.] Jack. [Catches sight of Lady Bracknell. The Brighton line. Jack. I dare not even suspect. I insist on knowing where you deposited the hand-bag that contained that infant. Dr.] Lady Bracknell. What railway station? Miss Prism. and placed the baby in the hand-bag. judicial voice. Miss Prism grows pale and quails. You never returned. through the elaborate investigations of the Metropolitan police. Page 31 of 34 .] But the baby was not there! [Every one looks at Miss Prism. Miss Prism. I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. wait here for me. [Miss Prism starts in involuntary indignation. Gwendolen.] Miss Prism. Do not ask me. The plain facts of the case are these.[Enter Miss Prism hurriedly. the perambulator was discovered at midnight. Jack. you left Lord Bracknell¶s house. this is a matter of no small importance to me. In a moment of mental abstraction. Upper Grosvenor Street. standing by itself in a remote corner of Bayswater.] Come here. [Quite crushed. It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality. Jack. who has fixed her with a stony glare. Algernon and Jack pretend to be anxious to shield Cecily and Gwendolen from hearing the details of a terrible public scandal. If you are not too long. I only wish I did. I admit with shame that I do not know. for which I never can forgive myself. [Who has been listening attentively. [In a severe. Gwendolen. Number 104. On the morning of the day you mention. They are hardly considered the thing. in charge of a perambulator that contained a baby of the male sex. Worthing.] Miss Prism.] Victoria. Prism! [Miss Prism approaches in a humble manner. Lady Bracknell? Lady Bracknell.] But where did you deposit the hand-bag? Miss Prism.] Prism! Where is that baby? [A pause.] Chasuble. A few weeks later. I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three-quarters. Mr.] Twenty-eight years ago. She looks anxiously round as if desirous to escape.] Prism! Where is that baby? [General consternation. What do you think this means. dear Canon. [Exit Jack in great excitement. The Canon starts back in horror. I deposited the manuscript in the basinette. [Sinks into a chair.

This suspense is terrible. Uncle Jack seems strangely agitated. are my initials. [Rushing over to Miss Prism. Miss Prism. [Enter Jack with a hand-bag of black leather in his hand. Moncrieff. Page 32 of 34 . Chasuble. [In a pathetic voice. and another for women? Mother.] Lady Bracknell.] You? Jack. [Looking up. [Amazed.] Is this the handbag. It has been a great inconvenience being without it all these years.] Miss Prism. an incident that occurred at Leamington. It sounds as if he was having an argument.. I was the baby you placed in it. I wish he would arrive at some conclusion. on the lock.] It has stopped now.] Cecily. there is some error. Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow.] There is the lady who can tell you who you really are. [Tries to embrace her again. I had forgotten that in an extravagant mood I had had them placed there. who has the right to cast a stone against one who has suffered? Cannot repentance wipe out an act of folly? Why should there be one law for men. I am afraid that the news I have to give you will not altogether please you. Lady Bracknell. [Embracing her. Mrs. The bag is undoubtedly mine. I forgive you. Chasuble. Miss Prism. more is restored to you than this hand-bag. [Pointing to Lady Bracknell. Your guardian has a very emotional nature. and often convincing.[Noises heard overhead as if some one was throwing trunks about. This noise is extremely unpleasant. mother! Miss Prism. [The noise is redoubled. But after all. Every one looks up. I am delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored to me. They are always vulgar.] Miss Prism. [Recoiling in indignant astonishment. Jack. Miss Prism? Examine it carefully before you speak. but would you kindly inform me who I am? Lady Bracknell.] Lady Bracknell. I hope it will last. Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage. And here. You are the son of my poor sister. The happiness of more than one life depends on your answer. Worthing.] Mr. I hate to seem inquisitive. Gwendolen. I dislike arguments of any kind.] It seems to be mine. [Calmly. here is the injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus in younger and happier days. Yes.] Jack. [Still more indignant. and consequently Algernon¶s elder brother.] Mr. Jack.] Yes. Worthing! I am unmarried Jack.. [After a pause.

I suppose? Gwendolen. The General was essentially a man of peace. but what was my father¶s Christian name? Lady Bracknell. But I have no doubt his name would appear in any military directory. His name would appear in the Army Lists of the period. But I have no doubt he had one. a moment. Algernon. Now. Your decision on the subject of my name is irrevocable. I admit. had been lavished on you by your fond and doting parents. Then I was christened! That is settled. Good heavens!. Being the eldest son you were naturally christened after your father. And that was the result of the Indian climate. [Meditatively. At the time when Miss Prism left me in the hand-bag. Algy! Can¶t you recollect what our father¶s Christian name was? Algernon. [To Jack. Chasuble. what name was I given? Let me know the worst.how could you have ever doubted that I had a brother? [Seizes hold of Algernon. old boy. [Irritably. except in his domestic life. my unfortunate brother. Jack. you young scoundrel. not till to-day. including christening.. I knew I had a brother! I always said I had a brother! Cecily. though I was out of practice. Page 33 of 34 . however.] I cannot at the present moment recall what the General¶s Christian name was.] Dr. You have never behaved to me like a brother in all your life. Jack. My dear boy. Gwendolen! Jack. He was eccentric. Then the question had better be cleared up at once. Gwendolen. Cecily. we were never even on speaking terms. Algy¶s elder brother! Then I have a brother after all. I admit. Aunt Augusta. But only in later years. my unfortunate brother.] My own! But what own are you? What is your Christian name.. Miss Prism. my unfortunate brother. I never change. Aunt Augusta? Lady Bracknell.Jack. Well. . and indigestion. I suppose.] Yes. Every luxury that money could buy. Algy.] Gwendolen. [Shakes hands. What a noble nature you have. I had quite forgotten that point. I did my best. He died before I was a year old. had I been christened already? Lady Bracknell. and other things of that kind. except in my affections. you will have to treat me with more respect in the future. now that you have become some one else? Jack. Jack. and marriage. Lady Bracknell. Jack.

Gwendolen. Gwendolen.. Migsby. My own one! Chasuble. Maxbohm. Can you forgive me? Gwendolen. Gwendolen! [Embraces her.] At last! Lady Bracknell. My nephew. [Enthusiastically.] At last! Jack. Ernest John. [Rushes to bookcase and tears the books out. [Puts book very quietly down and speaks quite calmly.Jack. Magley. Colonel. Mobbs. Gwendolen. I¶ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest. I remember now that the General was called Ernest. I knew I had some particular reason for disliking the name. Yes. Captain. Jack. Christian names.] I always told you. Mallam. I mean it naturally is Ernest. my name was Ernest. For I feel that you are sure to change. Tableau Page 34 of 34 . Lady Bracknell.] Laetitia! [Embraces her] Miss Prism. Jack. it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. you seem to be displaying signs of triviality.] Frederick! At last! Algernon. what ghastly names they have . Cecily! [Embraces her. Ernest! My own Ernest! I felt from the first that you could have no other name! Jack.] M. General 1869. didn¶t I? Well.Markby. Aunt Augusta. [To Miss Prism.. These delightful records should have been my constant study. Generals. The Army Lists of the last forty years are here. Moncrieff! Lieutenant 1840. On the contrary. it is Ernest after all. Lieutenant-Colonel. I can.

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