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A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
A PENN STATE ELECTRONIC CLASSICS SERIES PUBLICATION
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People by Oscar Wilde is a publication of the Pennsylvania State University. This Portable Document file is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any purpose, and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither the Pennsylvania State University nor Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, nor anyone associated with the Pennsylvania State University assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic transmission, in any way. The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People by Oscar Wilde, the Pennsylvania State University, Electronic Classics Series, Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, Hazleton, PA 18202-1291 is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classical works of literature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them. Cover Design: Jim Manis Copyright © 2006 The Pennsylvania State University
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THE PERSONS IN THE PLAY
The Importance of Being Earnest
A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
John Worthing, J.P. Algernon Moncrieff Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D. Merriman, Butler Lane, Manservant Lady Bracknell Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax Cecily Cardew Miss Prism, Governess
THE SCENES OF THE PLAY
ACT I. Algernon Moncrieff ’s Flat in Half-Moon Street, W. ACT II. The Garden at the Manor House, Woolton. ACT III. Drawing-Room at the Manor House, Woolton. TIME: The Present.
Morning-room in Algernon’s flat in Half-Moon Street.P. I keep science for Life. Merriman: Mr. D. Algernon.The Importance of Being Earnest FIRST ACT LONDON: ST. Kinsey Peile. H. JAMES’S THEATRE SCENE Lessee and Manager: Mr. George Alexander February 14th. speaking of the science of Life. H. [Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table. Lane. J. Algernon. Lane I didn’t think it polite to listen. Algernon And. Algernon Moncrieff: Mr. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room. Algernon Did you hear what I was playing. sir.] Algernon. Lane: Mr. have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell? 4 . George Alexander. Algernon I’m sorry for that.: Mr. Miss Prism: Mrs. Lady Bracknell: Miss Rose Leclercq. Cecily Cardew: Miss Evelyn Millard. Algernon enters. 1895 ***** John Worthing. Lane? Lane. for your sake. Frank Dyall. As far as the piano is concerned.: Mr. Allen Aynesworth. and after the music has ceased. Rev. Hon.D. Vincent. Gwendolen Fairfax: Miss Irene Vanbrugh. I don’t play accurately—any one can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. sentiment is my forte. sir. Canon Chasuble. Lane Yes. George Canninge. F. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished.
thank you. I never think of it myself. Worthing were dining with me. Really. Algernon How are you. eight bottles and a pint. Lane Mr. sir. Ernest Worthing. I Lane. [Lane goes out. Algernon. Lane No.] Algernon. sir.] I don’t know that I am much interested in your family life. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. Algernon [Languidly. Algernon Why is it that at a bachelor’s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information. Algernon Lanes views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Lane I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine. anywhere? Eating as usual. Lane Thank you. sir. Algernon. it is not a very interesting subject. I see. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person. 5 Algernon. Algernon. have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand. Algernon Very natural. as a class. when Lord Shoreman and Mr. eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed.Oscar Wilde Lane.] Algernon. [Enter Lane. Lane I believe it is a very pleasant state. Algernon. [Enter Jack. Algernon [Inspects them. I see from your book that on Thursday night. sir. sir. and sits down on the sofa. Lane. Lane Yes. pleasure! What else should bring one ack. Lane. Lane. Lane Yes. I have only been married once. takes two. [Hands them on a salver.] . to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility. Algernon Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that? [Lane goes out. if the lower orders don’t set us a good example.] Lane. what on earth is the use of them? They seem. pleasure. That will do.] Oh! … by the way. I am sure. Lane. Lane. my dear Ernest? What brings you up to town? Jack Oh. Algy! Lane.] Lane. sir.
Algernon I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. ack.] I believe it is customary in good society to take some slight refreshment at five o’clock. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. When one is in the country one amuses other people.] By the way. cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea? 6 Algernon. . neighbours. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her. Algernon What on earth do you do there? ack. Algernon. Algernon. It is excessively boring. Then the excitement is all over. Algernon. Algernon Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen. Algernon And who are the people you amuse? Jack [Airily. Shropshire is your county. I believe. Jack How perfectly delightful! Algernon Yes. of course. Algernon [Stiffly. Jack May I ask why? ack. ack. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you. is perfectly disgraceful. Algernon. neighbours. Algernon. Why. Augusta won’t quite approve of your being here. Hallo! Why all these ack. Algernon My dear fellow. Algernon.] Oh. that is all very well. Jack I am in love with Gwendolen. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. but I am afraid Aunt Algernon. Jack How utterly unromantic you are! ack. Algernon How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich. Jack Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them. Algernon Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire? ack. is it not? Jack Eh? Shropshire? Yes. I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.The Importance of Being Earnest Algernon.] In the country. ack. the way you flirt with Gwendolen Algernon. If ever I get married. Algernon I thought you had come up for pleasure? … I call that business. one may be accepted. ack. It is very romantic to be in love. Jack [Pulling off his gloves. One usually is. Where have you been since last Thursday? Jack [Sitting down on the sofa.
Jack I have no doubt about that. Jack Cecily! What on earth do you mean? What do you mean.Oscar Wilde ack. Algernon at once interferes. Algy. you will have to clear up the whole question of Cecily. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. [Rings bell. Algernon That is quite a different matter. It is a great truth. Jack Why on earth do you say that? ack. You are not married to her already. You behave as if you were married to her already. Algernon Well. Girls don’t think it right. that is nonsense! Algernon. Jack [Advancing to table and helping himself. Lane Yes. Algernon Well. Algernon. Algernon. Algernon My dear fellow. Gwendolen is my first cousin. and I don’t think you ever will be. Worthing left in the smoking-room the last time he dined here.] Please don’t touch the cucumber sandwiches. you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all.] And very good bread and butter it is too. She is my aunt.] Algernon. [Lane goes out. you have been eating them all the time. In the second place. in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. . my dear fellow. I don’t give my consent. Algernon. ack. And before I allow you to marry her. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen. dear Algy. [Takes one and eats it. Algernon It isn’t. by Cecily! I don’t know any one of the name of Cecily. Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter.] ack. Jack Your consent! ack. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted. Algernon Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. Divorces are made in Heaven—[Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Jack Oh. ack. [Enter Lane.] ack. sir.] Have some bread and butter. Algernon Bring me that cigarette case Mr.] Lane. ack. Algernon. Jack Do you mean to say you have had my cigarette case all 7 Algernon. Jack Well. [Takes plate from below.
Algy. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case. Charming old lady she is. [Follows Algernon round the room. I happen to be Algernon. Algernon Your aunt! ack. some aunts are not tall.] However. Jack Well. ack. ack. I am quite aware of the fact.] ‘From little Cecily with her fondest love. Algernon. [Moving to him. [Enter Lane with the cigarette case on a salver. I simply want my cigarette case back.] My dear fellow. it makes no matter. It isn’t the sort of thing one should talk of in private. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. Lane goes out. Cecily happens to be my aunt. Algernon.] . if you want to know. I must say. Algernon Well. Jack Of course it’s mine. This cigaAlgernon. Algernon [Retreating to back of sofa. Jack Yes. 8 Jack. Ernest. and you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. Jack [Moving to sofa and kneeling upon it. but this isn’t your cigarette case. and you said you didn’t know any one of that name. Algernon Yes.] But why does she call herself little Cecily if she is your aunt and lives at Tunbridge Wells? [Reading. Algernon I think that is rather mean of you. Algernon. ack.’ ack. I was very nearly offering a large reward.] Algernon. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read. Algernon Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. I wish you would offer one. Algernon takes it at once. more than usually hard up. I find that the thing isn’t yours after all. Lives at Tunbridge Wells. [Opens case and examines it. and I don’t propose to discuss modern culture. now that I look at the inscription inside. rette case is a present from some one of the name of Cecily.The Importance of Being Earnest this time? I wish to goodness you had let me know.] You have seen me with it a hundred times. 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. what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall. Jack There is no good offering a large reward now that the thing is found. for. Just give it back to me. too. I have been writing frantic letters to Scotland Yard about it.
Algernon Here it is. Algernon Well. Algernon. Ernest Worthing. The Albany. . ack. to an aunt being a small aunt. made me in his will guardian to his grand-daughter. old boy. Algernon Yes. Algernon You have always told me it was Ernest. I may mention that I have always suspected you of being a confirmed and secret Bunburyist. there is nothing improbable about my explanation at all. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. it’s Jack. Thomas Cardew. Come. Jack Well. In fact it’s perfectly ordinary. who addresses me as her uncle from motives of respect that you could not possibly appreciate. You look as if your name was Ernest. introduced you to every one as Ernest. that is exactly what dentists always do. 4. Jack My dear fellow. Miss Cecily Cardew. But why does your aunt call you her uncle? ‘From little Cecily. and the cigarette case was given to me in the country.Oscar Wilde Algernon. 9 Jack.’ I’ll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me. go on! Tell me the whole thing. J ack Bunburyist? What on earth do you mean by a ack. Algernon 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. Algernon. [Sits on sofa. who lives at Tunbridge Wells. You answer to the name of Ernest. Algernon Yes. your name isn’t Jack at all. Bunburyist? Algernon. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn’t Ernest. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. calls you her dear uncle. my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. [Hands cigarette case. who adopted me when I was a little boy. Cecily.] ack. I admit. but why an aunt. you had much better have the thing out at once. Besides.] ack.] Now produce your explanation. Jack Well. I have Algernon. and pray make it improbable. Jack It isn’t Ernest. It’s on your cards. with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack. Now. It produces a false impression. produce my cigarette case first. but that does not account for the fact that your small Aunt Cecily. I can’t quite make out. Here is one of them. My dear Algy.] ‘Mr. or to Gwendolen. and I am quite sure of it now. Algernon. Old Mr. [Puts the card in his pocket. you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. should call her own nephew her uncle. B. no matter what her size may be.’ There is no objection. ack. [Taking it from case. or to any one else. it is Ernest.
Algernon. for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week. Algernon. my dear fellow. You are hardly serious enough. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury. Algernon Literary criticism is not your forte. Algernon.The Importance of Being Earnest lives at my place in the country under the charge of her admirable governess. ModAlgernon. You are not going to be invited … I may tell you candidly that the place is not in Shropshire. Nothing annoys people so much as not receiving invitations. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. It’s one’s duty to do so. and modern literature a complete impossibility! 10 ack. go on. I don’t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. Jack My dear Algy. for instance. Don’t try it. Jack What on earth do you mean? ack. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. who lives in the Albany. You are absurdly careless about sending out invitations. Algernon You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest. Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country? ack. Now. my dear fellow! I have Bunburyed Algernon. in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. my dear Algy. When one is placed in the position of guardian. . is the whole truth pure and simple. in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest. Jack That wouldn’t be at all a bad thing. one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. and gets into the most dreadful scrapes. ern life would be very tedious if it were either. dear boy. Algernon The truth is rarely pure and never simple. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s health or one’s happiness. Algernon I suspected that. They do it so well in the daily papers. by the way? ack. Algernon Where is that place in the country. Algernon I know. I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to-night. Jack I haven’t asked you to dine with me anywhere to-night. Miss Prism. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health. That. Jack That is nothing to you. all over Shropshire on two separate occasions. It is very foolish of you. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. What you really are is a Bunburyist. ack. Algernon. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know.
She will place me next Mary Farquhar. indeed I think I’ll kill him in any case. I am going to kill my brother. In the second place. or two. To begin with. Algernon. Jack You had much better dine with your Aunt Augusta. that in married life three is company and two is none. Algernon.] That. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it. Algernon Then your wife will.Oscar Wilde ack. It is rather a bore. Algernon. There’s such a lot of beastly competition about. Algernon Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury. Indeed. I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to. don’t try to be cynical. Algernon I haven’t the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. I dined there on Monday. easy to be cynical. [The sound of an electric bell is heard. I want to tell you the rules. Jack I’m not a Bunburyist at all. Algernon Yes. or creditors. Only relatives. Now. ack. I certainly won’t want to know Bunbury. ack. Jack That is nonsense.] Ah! that must be Aunt Augusta. It’s perfectly ack. 11 and if you ever get married. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public. who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. ack. It looks so bad. you will be very glad to know Bunbury. if I get her out of the way for ten min- . Algernon My dear fellow. Cecily is a little too much interested in him. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. You don’t seem to realise. it is not even decent … and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. which seems to me extremely problematic. and that the happy English home has proved in half the time. If Gwendolen accepts me. Algernon. tonight. and sent down with either no woman at all. now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. and she is the only girl I ever saw in my life that I would marry. and once a week is quite enough to dine with one’s own relations. Jack For heaven’s sake. In the third place. whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family. Algernon. is the theory that the corrupt French Drama has been propounding for the last fifty years. If I marry a charming girl like Gwendolen. So I am going to get rid of Ernest. my dear young friend. That is not very pleasant. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr … with your invalid friend who has the absurd name. ever ring in that Wagnerian manner. Besides. it isn’t easy to be anything nowadays. Jack [Sententiously.
Worthing? 12 Lane.] Algernon [To Gwendolen. Gwendolen endolen. [Gwendolen and Jack sit down together in the corner. Aunt Augusta. so that you can have an opportunity for proposing to Gwendolen.] Algernon. Gwendolen? Gwendolen endolen. It would leave no room for developments. [Enter Lane.] Bracknell racknell. And now I’ll have a cup of tea. . Gwendolen Thanks.] [Lady Bracknell and Miss Fairfax.] There were no cucumbers in the market this morning. Jack You’re quite perfect. Algernon. I hope you are behaving very well. [Goes over to tea-table.] Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially. Gwendolen endolen. I never saw a woman so altered. Gwendolen I am always smart! Am I not. Algernon. Algernon. she looks quite twenty years younger. In fact the two things rarely go together. Bracknell racknell. and I intend to develop in many directions. Gwendolen Oh! I hope I am not that. if you want to. I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. It is so shallow of them. sir.The Importance of Being Earnest utes. and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me.] Bracknell racknell. Mr. Jack I suppose so. but you must be serious about it. Lane [Gravely. Bracknell racknell. I hate people who are not serious about meals. Miss Fairfax. Lady Bracknell That’s not quite the same thing. may I dine with you to-night at Willis’s? ack. Algernon Certainly. Lady Bracknell Won’t you come and sit here. Algernon I’m feeling very well. Algernon Yes. Lady Bracknell Good afternoon. Enter Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen. Aunt Augusta. mamma. I went down twice.] [Algernon goes forward to meet them. ack. dear Algernon.] Dear me. you are smart! Algernon. Algernon. I’m quite comfortable where I am. but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. [Sees Jack and bows to him with icy coldness. Algernon [Picking up empty plate in horror. Lady Bracknell I’m sorry if we are a little late.
Algernon. I am always telling that to your poor uncle. It’s delightful to watch them.] I hope not. sir. Fortunately he is accustomed to that. Health is the primary duty of life. to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday. the pleasure of dining with you to-night after all. Algernon It is a great bore.] They seem to think I should be with him. for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. Algernon I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief. and one . a terrible Algernon. Algernon. It would put my table completely out. from me. I shall have to give up Algernon. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Bunbury. Algernon I am greatly distressed. Lady Bracknell It is very strange. cannot say. I consider it morbid. poor Bunbury is a dreadful invalid. Algernon. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health. [Algernon crosses and hands tea. [Exchanges glances with Jack. disappointment to me. Algernon No cucumbers! Lane. Algernon. and. Lane No. I’ve quite a treat for you to-night. who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now. Algernon That will do. It is my last reception. Lane. Bracknell racknell. Not even for ready money. of course. Aunt Augusta. that I think it is high time that Mr.] Algernon. sir. I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury. 13 Bracknell racknell. This Mr. and so attentive to her husband. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. [Goes out. about there being no cucumbers. Your uncle would have to dine upstairs. Bracknell racknell. Bracknell racknell. not even for ready money. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. Algernon I am afraid. but the fact is I have just had a telegram to say that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. I am going to send you down with Mary Farquhar. From what cause I. Bracknell racknell. Algernon. Algernon.] Thank you. Lady Bracknell It really makes no matter. I must say.Oscar Wilde Algernon. Algernon Yes. I need hardly say. Lane Thank you. thank you. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Aunt Augusta. Lady Bracknell [Frowning. but he never seems to take much notice … as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. Algernon. She is such a nice woman. Lane. Lady Bracknell It certainly has changed its colour. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Lady Bracknell Well.
And I often wish that in public. and indeed. you had been more demonstrative. was probably not much. particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say. and if one plays bad music people don’t talk. [Rising. You see. Gwendolen Yes. Mamma Gwendolen endolen.] I’m sure the programme will be delightful. as I hope you . But I’ll run over the programme I’ve drawn out. in most cases. For me you have always had an irresistible fascination. which. Gwendolen Certainly. which is worse. which is vulgar. ack. People always seem to think that they are improper. I believe is so. Gwendolen Pray don’t talk to me about the weather. Mr.The Importance of Being Earnest wants something that will encourage conversation. Of course the music is a great difficulty. Jack And I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell’s temporary absence … Gwendolen I would certainly advise you to do so. And that makes me so nervous. But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language. has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have often had to speak to her about. you will accompany me. Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you. In fact. Miss Fairfax. French songs I cannot possibly allow. Gwendolen remains behind. Jack I do mean something else. or laugh. ack. Algernon. I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. ack. Jack Charming day it has been. Gwendolen endolen. and either look shocked. Jack [Nervously. It is very thoughtful of you. I am never wrong. Gwendolen endolen. Whenever people talk to me about the weather. [Lady Bracknell and Algernon go into the music-room. Lady Bracknell Thank you. Worthing. and I think I can promise you he’ll be all right by Saturday. at any rate. mamma. after a few expurgations.] 14 ack. people don’t listen. Gwendolen endolen. and following Algernon.] We live. [Jack looks at her in amazement. Gwendolen. I am quite well aware of the fact. if one plays good music. Algernon. Aunt Augusta. Gwendolen endolen. if he is still conscious.] Miss Fairfax. ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl … I have ever met since … I met you. if you will kindly come into the next room for a moment. Bracknell racknell. Algernon I’ll speak to Bunbury. Gwendolen I thought so.
It produces vibrations. Mr. ack. ack. Gwendolen Passionately! ack.Oscar Wilde know. Mr Worthing. I must say that I think there are lots of other much nicer names. It does not thrill. to speak quite candidly. I think Jack. I am told. for instance. a charming name. there is very little music in the name Jack. that you were not Gwendolen endolen. darling. You know that I love you. Gwendolen. a music of its own. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines. I know it is. Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. I don’t much care about the name of Ernest … I don’t think the name suits me at all. were more than usually plain. The only really safe name is Ernest. without exception. Worthing? ack. Gwendolen Married. in an age of ideals. It produces absolutely no vibrations … I have known several Jacks. Besides. Gwendolen? Gwendolen endolen. Jack Yes. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn’t love me then? Gwendolen [Glibly. and they all. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. It is a divine name. There is no time to be lost. Jack Darling! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me. and you led me to believe. if any at all. ack. I knew I was destined to love you. Gwendolen endolen. Jack But you don’t really mean to say that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest? Gwendolen But your name is Ernest. .] Well … surely. as we know them. Gwendolen Jack? … No. Jack [Astounded. Gwendolen It suits you perfectly. Gwendolen My own Ernest! Gwendolen endolen. indeed. ack. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. Jack Well. Gwendolen endolen. Jack Personally. It has Gwendolen endolen. and my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest. I must get christened at once—I mean we must get married at once. and has reached the provincial pulpits. Miss Fairfax. ack. and like most metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of real life. really. lation.] Ah! that is clearly a metaphysical specuGwendolen endolen. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest. Jack You really love me. 15 ack. Jack Gwendolen.
All my girl-friends tell me so. from this semirecumbent posture. It is hardly ack. Ernest! They are quite. will you marry me? [Goes on his knees. but men often propose for practice. Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell Pardon me. Jack My own one. Lady Bracknell Finished what. Lady Bracknell Mr. Worthing! Rise. Worthing. Gwendolen endolen. [Enter Lady Bracknell. Gwendolen I adore you. or your father. Worthing has not quite finished yet. Mr.] I must beg you to retire. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise. blue. Gwendolen endolen.] Bracknell racknell. mamma. pleasant or unpleasant. ack. you are not engaged to any one. Jack Gwendolen! Gwendolen endolen. Worthing. Jack Well … may I propose to you now? Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen I think it would be an admirable opportunity. It is most indecorous.] . quite. sir. And to spare you any possible disappointment. especially when there are other people present. I have never loved any one in the world but you. as the case may be. Gwendolen Yes. 16 Bracknell racknell. Worthing. rise together. Gwendolen endolen. What wonderfully blue eyes you have. I. How long you have been about it! I am afraid you have had very little experience in how to propose. Gwendolen Yes. I think it only fair to tell you quite frankly before-hand that I am fully determined to accept you.] endolen. [They Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Mamma! [He tries to rise. Mr. Gwendolen Yes. But you haven’t proposed to me yet. what have you got to say to me? ack. will inform you of the fact. Gwendolen Gwendolen Of course I will. Nothing has been said at all about marriage. she restrains him. Besides. Mr. The subject has not even been touched on. I hope you will always look at me just like that.The Importance of Being Earnest absolutely indifferent to me. ack. I know my brother Gerald does. Jack You know what I have got to say to you. should his health permit him. This is no place for you. but you don’t say it. When you do become engaged to some one. Gwendolen endolen. may I ask? Gwendolen I am engaged to Mr. darling. ack. Jack Gwendolen.
Mr. Fortunately in England. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit. Lady Bracknell.] Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell [Pencil and note-book in hand. education produces no effect whatsoever.] Gwendolen. Jack Twenty-nine. I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Finally turns round. Gwendolen endolen. Jack Thank you. While I am making these inquiries. Which do you know? ack. will wait for me below in the carriage. Lady Bracknell. Gwendolen Yes.] I know nothing. However. If it did. Jack Between seven and eight thousand a year. Mr. How old are you? ack. I must admit I smoke. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Worthing. A man should always Bracknell racknell. have an occupation of some kind. Gwendolen! [Gwendolen goes to the door.] You can take a seat. I prefer standing. We work together. Gwendolen. yes. it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes. and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. [Goes out. at any rate. Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell I am pleased to hear it. touch it and the bloom is gone. you. should your answers be what a 17 really affectionate mother requires. Bracknell racknell. mamma. Jack Well. There are far too many idle men in London as it is. Lady Bracknell I am glad to hear it. I am quite ready to enter your name. looking back at Jack. Lady Bracknell A very good age to be married at. Lady Bracknell [Sitting down. Lady Bracknell looks vaguely about as if she could not understand what the noise was. Gwendolen [Reproachfully. Worthing. She and Jack blow kisses to each other behind Lady Bracknell’s back. Do you smoke? ack. the carriage! Gwendolen endolen. Jack [After some hesitation. . What is your income? ack. in fact.Oscar Wilde a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself … And now I have a few questions to put to you.] I feel bound to tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men. although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. Lady Bracknell In the carriage.] ack.] Mamma! Bracknell racknell. [Looks in her pocket for note-book and pencil. Bracknell racknell.
Jack I have a country house with some land. I can get it back whenever I like. Jack 149. Bracknell racknell. Bracknell racknell. at six months’ notice. Lady Bracknell A country house! How many bedrooms? Well. land has ceased to be either a profit or a pleasure. In fact. ack. they count as Tories. You have a town house. Jack I have lost both my parents. as far as I can make out. Lady Bracknell [Makes a note in her book. Bracknell racknell. but I don’t depend on that for my real income. Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell [Sternly. I own a house in Belgrave Square. the poachers are the only people who make anything out of it. that could easily be altered. They dine with us. unspoiled nature. Now to minor matters. Bracknell racknell. and the duties exacted from one after one’s death. Lady Bracknell Ah.] The unfashionable side. like Gwendolen. I thought there was something. ack. she goes about very little. 18 Bracknell racknell. . What between the duties expected of one during one’s lifetime. However.The Importance of Being Earnest Bracknell racknell. Jack Do you mean the fashion. I hope? A girl with a simple. ack. Are your parents living? ack. of course. Lady Bracknell That is satisfactory. but it is let by the year to Lady Bloxham. about fifteen hundred acres. I am a Liberal ack. Lady Bracknell [Shaking her head. She is a lady considerably advanced in years. Jack Oh. attached to it. Unionist. Jack In investments. Lady Bracknell Oh. at any rate. nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability of character. That’s all that can be said about land. I believe. It gives one position. if necessary. What number in Belgrave Square? ack.] Both. or in investments? ack. Jack Well. Lady Bracknell Lady Bloxham? I don’t know her. could hardly be expected to reside in the country. Of course. chiefly. Bracknell racknell. I presume. Or come in the evening. that point can be cleared up afterwards. or the side? ack. What are your polities? Jack Well. I am afraid I really have none. and prevents one from keeping it up.] In land.
found me. or ThoBracknell racknell. in a hand-bag. Mr. I was found. It was given to him in mistake for his own. Lady Bracknell A hand-bag? 19 ack. I said I had lost my parents. The fact is. Lady Bracknell The cloak-room at Victoria Station? ack. Bracknell racknell. I was in a handbag—a somewhat large. confess I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me.Oscar Wilde Bracknell racknell. Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag? ack. very charitable and kindly disposition. Jack Yes. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found. or at any rate bred. Lady Bracknell.] Yes. Jack [Very seriously. Lady Bracknell Where did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class ticket for this seaside resort find you? ack. Worthing. To be born. Who was your father? He was evidently a man of some wealth. been used for that purpose before now-but it could hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognised position in good society. Lady Bracknell In what locality did this Mr. an old gentleman of a ack. Lady Bracknell To lose one parent. Mr. Lady Bracknell. Bracknell racknell. Jack In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. James. may be regarded as a misfortune. The Brighton line. . It is a seaside resort. Worthing is a place in Sussex. Lady Bracknell Found! Jack The late Mr. I was … well. Bracknell racknell. It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost me … I don’t actually know who I am by birth. or did he rise from the ranks of the aristocracy? ack. seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.] In a hand-bag. mas. Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell The line is immaterial. and gave me the name of Worthing. to lose both looks like carelessness. Thomas Cardew. Was he born in what the Radical papers call the purple of commerce. black leather hand-bag. whether it had handles or not. Worthing. with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact. Jack [Gravely. Jack I am afraid I really don’t know. a cloak-room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion—has probably. I Bracknell racknell. indeed.
nor the smallest instinct about when to die. Algernon. She is always refusing people. but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. Bracknell racknell. Jack Oh. we are engaged. Algernon Didn’t it go off all right. that is nonsense! Algernon. It is in my dressing-room at home. old boy? You don’t mean to say Gwendolen refused you? I know it is a way she has. Her mother is perfectly unbearable.] For goodness’ sake don’t play that ghastly tune. to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible.] ack. I really think that should satisfy you. ack. I suppose I shouldn’t talk about your own aunt in that way before you. Algy. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. sir! What has it to do with me? You Bracknell racknell. she is a monster. to argue about things. ack. I think it is most ill-natured of her. and goes to the door. from the other room. Mr. and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent. can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter—a girl brought up with the utmost care—to marry into a cloak-room. Jack Well. Jack May I ask you then what you would advise me to do? I need hardly say I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwendolen’s happiness.] Algernon. strikes up the Wedding March. Algernon It isn’t! Jack Well. I won’t argue about the matter. that. I love hearing my relations abused. . Jack Good morning! [Algernon. Gwendolen is as right as a trivet. Lady Bracknell I would strongly advise you. I can produce the hand-bag at any moment. Lady Bracknell. Algernon My dear boy. Algy. of either sex. Mr. Never met such a Gorgon … I don’t really know what a Gorgon is like. and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning. Jack looks perfectly furious. As far as she is concerned. before the season is quite over. Worthing! [Lady Bracknell sweeps out in majestic indignation.The Importance of Being Earnest ack. I don’t see how I could possibly manage to do ack. Worthing. without being a myth. Lady Bracknell Me. In any case. which is rather unfair … I beg your pardon. who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live. Jack Oh. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people. You always want ack. How idiotic you are! 20 [The music stops and Algernon enters cheerily.
I’ll say he died in Paris of apoplexy. Jack Oh. did you tell Gwendolen the truth about your being Ernest in town. quite suddenly. Jack [In a very patronising manner. What extraordinary ideas you have about the way to behave to a woman! Algernon. and Jack in the country? ack. Algernon Yes. Everybody is clever nowadays. that is nonsense. Algernon. Algernon All women become like their mothers. You had much better say a severe chill. if she is plain. Algernon The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her.] My dear fellow. Algernon The fools? Oh! about the clever people. Jack Upon my word. That’s his. Algernon That is exactly what things were originally made for. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. 21 ack. do you. Lots of people die of apoplexy. sweet. Algy? Algernon. That is their tragedy. . don’t they? Algernon. ack. before the end of the week I shall have got rid of ack. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. the truth isn’t quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice. and to some one else. but it’s hereditary. of course. ack. I’d shoot myself … [A pause. if I thought that. Algernon. Jack What fools! Algernon. ack. refined girl. Algernon It is perfectly phrased! and quite as true as any observation in civilised life should be. No man does. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left. Algernon By the way. Jack I should extremely like to meet them. Algernon What about your brother? What about the profligate Ernest? Jack Oh. Jack I am sick to death of cleverness. ack. Algernon We have.] You don’t think there is any chance of Gwendolen becoming like her mother in about a hundred and fifty years. What do they talk about? Algernon. if she is pretty. It’s a sort of thing that runs in families. ack.Oscar Wilde Algernon. my dear fellow. him. Jack Is that clever? Algernon.
Algernon. Jack Oh. Algernon. we really must go and dress. I’ll bet you anything you like that half an hour after 22 Jack Oh. She has got a capital appetite. She is excessively pretty. that is all right. and she is only just eighteen. Jack You are sure a severe chill isn’t hereditary. Algernon Well. Jack Oh no! I loathe listening. Now. ack. my dear boy. goes long walks. . then. and Gwendolen are perfectly certain to be extremely great friends. Algernon. or anything of that kind? Algernon. Algernon Well. I am glad to say. by a severe chill. That gets rid of him. Jack Very well.] Oh! It always is nearly seven. Jack Oh. we might trot round to the Empire at ten? ack. My poor brother Ernest to carried off suddenly. Algernon I would rather like to see Cecily. let us go to the Club? ack. no! I hate talking. Cecily is not a silly romantic girl. Algernon Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first. Algernon What shall we do after dinner? Go to a theatre? ack. Jack [Irritably. Algernon. It is so silly. Algernon. Algernon Of course it isn’t! ack. what shall we do? they have met. and pays no attention at all to her lessons. Jack I never knew you when you weren’t … Algernon. if we want to get a good table at Willis’s. Algernon But I thought you said that … Miss Cardew was a little too much interested in your poor brother Ernest? Won’t she feel his loss a good deal? ack. Algernon. Algernon Well. Algernon Have you told Gwendolen yet that you have an excessively pretty ward who is only just eighteen? Jack Oh! one doesn’t blurt these things out to people. Cecily ack.The Importance of Being Earnest ack. Jack I will take very good care you never do. no! I can’t bear looking at things. Algernon. ack. Algernon. Algernon Well. they will be calling each other sister. Do you know it is nearly seven? ack. I’m hungry. in Paris.
However. But although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife. and writes the address on his shirt-cuff. with unpleasing comments. Hertfordshire. very particular to say to Mr.] Jack. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. [Algernon. Whatever influence I ever had over mamma. Woolton. Gwendolen The story of your romantic origin. Gwendolen. I don’t mind hard work where there is no definite object of any kind. Gwendolen Gwendolen Ernest. smiles to himself. Lane Miss Fairfax. What is your address in the country? Jack The Manor House. ack. I don’t think I can allow this at all. you always adopt a strictly immoral attitude towards life. The simplicity of your character makes you exquisitely incomprehensible to me. You are not quite old enough to do that. Algernon Gwendolen. we may never be married. [Enter Lane. Your town address at the Albany I have.] Algernon. Worthing. My own darling! endolen. nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you. I have something Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen There is a good postal service.] Lane. has naturally stirred the deeper fibres of my nature. Algernon. Algernon Really. [Algernon retires to the fireplace. From the 23 Gwendolen endolen. Then picks up the Railway Guide. [Enter Gwendolen. Jack Nothing! Algernon. That of course Gwendolen endolen. Your Christian name has an irresistible fascination. Algernon It is awfully hard work doing nothing. and marry often. .] expression on mamma’s face I fear we never shall. who has been carefully listening. I suppose? It may be necessary to do something desperate. Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them.Oscar Wilde ack. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Algy. Jack Dear Gwendolen! ack. kindly turn your back. as related to me by mamma. and I may marry some one else. Lane goes out. I lost at the age of three. upon my word! Gwendolen Algy.
Jack My own one! Algernon To-morrow. my smoking jacket. sir.] I will see Miss Fairfax out. sir. Gwendolen You may also ring the bell. and all the Bunbury suits … Algernon. Gwendolen Certainly. Algernon A glass of sherry. who now enters.] 24 Lane. Algernon Lane. Gwendolen How long do you remain in town? Lane. Algernon. It is to be surmised that they are bills. Jack Till Monday. You can put up my dress clothes. Gwendolen endolen. Lane. There’s a sensible. Algernon. after looking at the envelopes. [Enter Jack. Lane. [Algernon is laughing immoderately. Lane Yes. Lane goes off. Algernon. Lane. sir. as Algernon. Lane Yes. ack. I’ve turned round already. sir. Lane Yes. Algernon. Jack You will let me see you to your carriage. Gwendolen endolen. Lane. Lane. I will communicate with you daily. Algernon I hope to-morrow will be a fine day.] [Lane presents several letters on a salver to Algernon. tears them up. ack. Algernon Thanks. . [Jack and Gwendolen go off.The Importance of Being Earnest will require serious consideration. you’re a perfect pessimist. my own darling? Gwendolen endolen. [Handing sherry. you may turn round now. Algernon I shall probably not be back till Monday. Lane.] Gwendolen endolen. sir. Lane I do my best to give satisfaction.] Jack. ack. intellectual girl! the only girl I ever cared for in my life. ack. Lane. Lane Yes. sir. Jack [To Lane. Gwendolen Good! Algy. Lane It never is.] What on earth are you so amused at? Algernon. I’m going Bunburying.
that’s nonsense. I’m a little anxious about poor Bunbury. Algernon Oh. and leaves the room.] SECOND ACT SCENE Garden at the Manor House. nonsense. The garden.] Prism rism.Oscar Wilde Algernon. Algernon lights a cigarette. an old-fashioned one. You never talk anything but ack. ack. you know how anxious your guardian is that you should improve yourself in every way. We will repeat yesterday’s lesson. [Miss Prism discovered seated at the table. Miss Prism Child. Cecily. July. Jack If you don’t take care. Jack Oh. Basket chairs. Your German grammar is on the table. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson. Miss Prism [Calling. Algernon. reads his shirt-cuff. Algernon. Cecily [Coming over very slowly. that is all. Algernon I love scrapes.] Cecily. [Jack looks indignantly at him. It isn’t at all a becoming language. and a table covered with books. Algy. Cecily is at the back watering flowers. and smiles. are set under a large yew-tree. 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. Pray open it at page fifteen.] But I don’t like German. He laid par25 Act Drop . your friend Bunbury will get you into a serious scrape some day. full of roses. They are the only things that are never serious. A flight of grey stone steps leads up to the house. Time of year. Prism rism. Algernon Nobody ever does.
Prism rism. I really don’t see why you should keep a diary at all. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility. Miss Prism [Drawing herself up. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us. and his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commended in one so comparatively young as he is. Cecily Yes. and geology. Prism Miss Prism Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel. Indeed. Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever Cecily.] 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. Miss Prism. Prism rism. You must remember his constant anxiety about that unfortunate young man his brother. he always lays stress on your German when he is leaving for town. Cecily. Cecily. Cecily I wish Uncle Jack would allow that unfortunate young man. Cecily. as he was leaving for town yesterday. Miss Prism Cecily! I am surprised at you. Indeed I am not sure that I would desire to reclaim him. but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened. Worthing has many troubles in his life. Miss Prism Memory. Mr. and things of that kind influence a man very much.] 26 Prism rism. rism. my dear Cecily. his brother. You know German. You must put away your diary. Cecily Did you really. I wrote one myself in earlier days. you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. Prism rism. Cecily Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious! Sometimes he is Cecily. Cecily. . Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation. and couldn’t possibly have happened. 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. They depress me so much. As a man sows so let him reap. is the diary that we all carry about with us. of my life. Cecily I suppose that is why he often looks a little bored when we three are together. I am sure you certainly would.The Importance of Being Earnest ticular stress on your German. Miss Prism [Shaking her head.] Your guardian enjoys the best of health. Cecily I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets Cecily. I should probably forget all about them. We might have a good influence over him. [Cecily begins to write in her diary. to come down here sometimes. Cecily. so serious that I think he cannot be quite well.
you are not inattentive. when the Rector came in. Miss Prism Cecily. 27 Chasuble. has not returned from town yet? Prism rism. Were I fortunate enough to be Chasuble. you are. well? Cecily. Miss Prism’s pupil. Cecily. Indeed I was thinking about that. Prism rism.] I spoke metaphorically. Cecily Miss Prism has just been complaining of a slight headache. And was your novel ever published? Prism rism. I am afraid I am. But it seems very unfair. these speculations are profitless. dear Miss Prism.] Dr. Prism Miss Prism Egeria? My name is Laetitia. Chasuble Ah yes.] Chasuble. Ahem! Mr. Cecily No. [Miss Prism glares. Cecily. Dr. To your work. That is what Fiction means.] I use the word in the sense of lost or mislaid. Chasuble coming up through the garden. Cecily Oh. I think it would do her so much good to have a short stroll with you in the Park. Chasuble. Chasuble I hope. Doctor.Oscar Wilde Prism rism. but I felt instinctively that you had a headache. Chasuble And how are we this morning? Miss Prism. he usually likes to spend his Sunday in London. by all accounts. [Cecily starts. Cecily. But I must not disturb Egeria and her pupil any longer. Chasuble. Miss Prism The good ended happily. [Smiling. Worthing. Miss Prism Alas! no. Chasuble That is strange. and not about my German lesson. as.] A classical allusion merely. Cecily. child. Chasuble.] But I see dear Dr. I would hang upon her lips. and the bad unhappily. I trust. that unfortunate young man his brother seems to be. The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned. Prism rism. I shall see you both no doubt at Evensong? Cecily. I suppose.—My metaphor was drawn from bees. Chasuble! This is indeed a pleasure. Chasuble [Bowing. I have not mentioned anything about a headache. Cecily I suppose so. Miss Prism We do not expect him till Monday afternoon. I know that. Miss Prism [Rising and advancing. . rism. [Enter Canon Chasuble. He is not one of those whose sole aim is enjoyment. drawn from the Pagan authors.
You. He has brought his luggage with him. I will have a stroll with you. are Uncle Jack’s brother.] ‘Mr. The Albany. you had better talk to the housekeeper about a room for him. I suppose Cecily. you will read your Political Economy in my absence. I feel rather frightened. I find I have a headache after all. erriman.] You are my little cousin Cecily. Merriman Yes. dear Doctor. with pleasure. Merriman Mr.] Cecily. I’m sure. We Chasuble.’ Uncle Jack’s brother! Did you tell him Mr. [Algernon is rather taken aback. Cecily. Worthing was in town? 28 erriman. Miss. W. 4. It is somewhat too sensational. I am not little. I believe I am more than usually tall for my age. and a walk might do it good. He said he was anxious to speak to you privately for a moment. Miss Prism.] But I am your cousin Cecily. Chasuble With pleasure.] Cecily. Cecily. Cecily [Takes the card and reads it. Cecily I have never met any really wicked person before. The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. I see from your card.The Importance of Being Earnest Prism rism. Ernest Worthing. Algernon [Raising his hat. Cecily Ask Mr. Cecily [Picks up books and throws them back on table. Merriman Yes. I mentioned that you and Miss Prism were in the garden. might go as far as the schools and back. Miss. Even these metallic problems have their melodramatic side. [Enter Algernon. [Goes down the garden with Dr. Ernest Worthing has just driven over from the station. He seemed very much disappointed. very gay and debonnair. Miss Prism That would be delightful.] erriman.] Horrid Political Economy! Horrid Geography! Horrid. Chasuble. Prism rism. horrid German! [Enter Merriman with a card on a salver. my wicked cousin Ernest. In fact. .] He does! Algernon. my cousin Ernest. B. I am so afraid he will look just like every one else. Cecily You are under some strange mistake. Miss Prism I think. [Merriman goes off. Cecily. Ernest Worthing to come here.
I know he wants to speak to you about your emigrating. how important it is not to Cecily. Cecily. Uncle Jack is sending you to Australia. he said at dinner on Wednesday night. well! The accounts I have received of AustraAlgernon I certainly wouldn’t let Jack buy my outfit. I am obliged to Algernon. That would be hypocrisy. Cecily Well. Algernon About my what? .Oscar Wilde Algernon. Algernon That is a great disappointment. Algernon. the next world. Algernon [Looks at her in amazement. I have been very bad in my own small way. has no taste in neckties at all. Algernon It is much pleasanter being here with you. Algernon. Cecily I can’t understand how you are here at all. He Algernon. Cecily I don’t think you will require neckties. Uncle Jack won’t be back till Monday afternoon. Cecily If you are not. though I am sure it must have been very pleasant. go up by the first train on Monday morning. of course. Cecily. Algernon No: the appointment is in London. Algernon Oh! I am not really wicked at all. cousin Cecily. Algernon. Cecily. Algernon.] Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless. if one wants to retain any sense of the beauty of life. He has gone up to buy your outfit. pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. Cecily I am glad to hear it. You mustn’t think that I am wicked. Cecily. Cecily I don’t think you should be so proud of that. Cecily. but still I think you had better wait till Uncle Jack arrives. Algernon. Algernon. Algernon Oh. Cecily. then you have certainly been deceiving us all in a very inexcusable manner. Cecily Couldn’t you miss it anywhere but in London? Algernon. Cecily Well. that you would have to choose between this world. I have a business appointment that I am anxious … to miss? 29 Cecily. I hope you have not been leading a double life. keep a business engagement. Cecily Your emigrating. Algernon In fact. Algernon Australia! I’d sooner die. I know. Cecily. now you mention the subject. and Australia.
You might make that your mission. Cecily Why? [Cuts a flower. Cecily. Cecily. Chasuble return. Cousin Cecily. I don’t think I would care to catch a sensible man.] Algernon. cousin Cecily. are not particularly encouraging.] You are the prettiest girl I ever saw. Cecily. Cecily A Marechal Niel? [Picks up scissors. Might I have a buttonhole first? I never have any appetite unless I have a buttonhole first. Won’t you come in? 30 Algernon.The Importance of Being Earnest lia and the next world. Miss Prism and Dr. Algernon Then Miss Prism is a short-sighted old lady. Miss Prism never says such things to me. But I think you should Cecily. Algernon. Algernon I will. Algernon. Cecily. one requires regular and wholesome meals. but are you good enough for it? Algernon. try. Algernon That is because I am hungry. Algernon. Cecily. if you don’t mind.] Algernon. this afternoon. Cecily. Algernon They are a snare that every sensible man would like to be caught in. cousin Cecily. puts the rose in his buttonhole. This world is good enough for me. I should have remembered that when one is going to lead an entirely new life. Cecily I’m afraid I’ve no time. Cecily. Algernon. Algernon No. I shouldn’t know what to talk to him about. I feel better already. Cecily. Algernon Thank you. Cecily I don’t think it can be right for you to talk to me like that. Cecily Miss Prism says that all good looks are a snare. Cecily Oh. Cecily Yes. [Cecily Algernon. Cecily. Cecily How thoughtless of me. Algernon Well. I’d sooner have a pink rose.] Algernon Because you are like a pink rose. Algernon I’m afraid I’m not that. [They pass into the house. . Cecily You are looking a little worse. That is why I want you to reform me. would you mind my reforming myself this afternoon? Cecily It is rather Quixotic of you.
Chasuble Mr. dear Dr. Jack [Shakes Miss Prism’s hand in a tragic manner. not even to her. Worthing? Miss Prism This is indeed a surprise. Miss Prism You are too much alone. He is dressed in the deepest mourning. dear Doctor. I trust this garb of woe does not betoken some terrible calamity? Jack My brother. this very celibacy leads weaker vessels astray. We did not look for Prism rism. [Dr. A misanthrope I can understand— a womanthrope. Chasuble. Maturity can always be depended on. Chasuble starts. serve so neologistic a phrase. Worthing! Chasuble. I do not deChasuble. Miss Prism Mr. I hope you are well? . Chasuble. Jack [Shaking his head. Miss Prism No married man is ever attractive except to his wife. And you do not seem to realise. The precept as well as the practice of the Primitive Church was distinctly against matrimony.] Believe me. ack. My metaphor was drawn from fruits. with crape hatband and black gloves.] I have returned sooner than I expected.] Prism rism. ack. Chasuble Still leading his life of pleasure? ack.] Dead! Chasuble. Miss Prism [Sententiously. Chasuble. that by persistently remaining single. You should get married. Ripeness can be trusted.Oscar Wilde Prism rism. Miss Prism That depends on the intellectual sympathies of the woman. Chasuble Perhaps she followed us to the schools. Chasuble.] I spoke horticulturally. Prism rism. a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation. you till Monday afternoon. But where is Cecily? 31 Chasuble. Dr. never! Chasuble [With a scholar’s shudder. I’ve been told. Chasuble. Men should be more careful. Worthing. Chasuble Dear Mr. Young women are green. Chasuble But is a man not equally attractive when married? Prism rism. Chasuble And often.] That is obviously the reason why the Primitive Church has not lasted up to the present day. [Enter Jack slowly from the back of the garden. Prism rism. Miss Prism More shameful debts and extravagance? Prism rism.
of course. it seems. Jack Ah! that reminds me. The last time I delivered it was in the Cathedral. Jack A severe chill. so shall he reap. Chasuble [Raising his hand.] Charity. Were you with him at the end? ack. Miss Prism It is.] I fear that hardly points to any very serious state of mind at the last. Chasuble? I suppose you know how to christen all right? [Dr. Chasuble looks astounded. Chasuble Mr. ack. distressing. Chasuble In Paris! [Shakes his head.] My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion. you mentioned christenings I think. Miss Prism As a man sows. joyful. You would no doubt wish me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic affliction next Sunday. or. one of the Rector’s most constant duties in this parish. ack. as a charity sermon on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Discontent among the Upper Orders. I had a telegram last night from the manager of the Grand Hotel. Prism rism. confirmations. as in the present case. Will the interment take place here? 32 Chasuble. Chasuble. charChasuble. . Dr. Jack Quite dead. Miss Prism What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it. I regret to say. Chasuble Very sad indeed. on days of humiliation and festal days. [Jack presses his hand convulsively. Chasuble. Prism rism.] I mean. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts. dear Miss Prism. christenings. in fact. But they don’t seem to know what thrift is. You have at least the consolation of knowing that you were always the most generous and forgiving of brothers. Worthing. Chasuble Your brother Ernest dead? ack. you are continually christening. ack. Jack No. The Bishop. He seems to have expressed a desire to be buried in Paris. who was present. He died abroad. Chasuble Was the cause of death mentioned? ack. Jack Poor Ernest! He had many faults. sad blow. I offer you my sincere condolence. [All sigh. Jack No. ity! None of us are perfect. Chasuble. I have often spoken to the poorer classes on the subject.The Importance of Being Earnest Chasuble. aren’t you? Prism rism.] I have preached it at harvest celebrations. was much struck by some of the analogies I drew. in Paris. but it is a sad.
The sprinkling. Chasuble But is there any particular infant in whom you are interested. Our weather is so changeable. Worthing. Would half-past five do? Chasuble. Miss Prism [Bitterly.] People who live entirely for pleasure usually are. the imChasuble. Sprinkling is all that is necessary.Oscar Wilde Chasuble. Worthing. Chasuble But surely. 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. this afternoon. Prism rism. What seem to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. you have been christened already? ack. Jack Oh! I don’t see much fun in being christened along with other babies. Chasuble You need have no apprehensions. Poor Jenkins the carter. It would be childish. . Mr. 33 ack. obvious kind. I would merely beg you not to be too much bowed down by grief. ack. Worthing? Your brother was. Jack Immersion! Chasuble. dear Mr. Chasuble. Jack Oh.] And now. of children. ack. At what hour would you wish the ceremony performed? ack. Mr. Chasuble. Chasuble But have you any grave doubts on the subject? ack. was he not? Jack Oh yes. I am very fond ack. I might trot round about five if that would suit you. unmarried. a most hard-working man. perfectly! In fact I have two similar ceremonies to perform at that time. dear Doctor. and. Chasuble Admirably! Admirably! [Takes out watch. Miss Prism This seems to me a blessing of an extremely Prism rism. Chasuble. Chasuble Not at all. Jack I don’t remember anything about it. I believe. if you have nothing better to do. Chasuble Perfectly. or indeed I think advisable. I will not intrude any longer into a house of sorrow. indeed. mersion of adults is a perfectly canonical practice. I would like to be christened myself. Jack But it is not for any child. or if you think I am a little too old now. Jack I certainly intend to have. No! the fact is.
Jack Who? Cecily. Ernest has just been telling me about his poor invalid friend Mr. Cecily. you are not going to refuse your own brother’s hand? ack. Jack Nothing will induce me to take his hand. I am pleased to see you back. Uncle Jack? [Runs back into the house. Bunbury whom he goes to visit so often. Cecily Oh. and I have got such a surprise for you. Chasuble My child! my child! [Cecily goes towards Jack. And you will shake hands with him. and that I intend to lead a better life in the future. Cecily What is the matter.] Cecily. won’t you. Prism rism.] Algernon. However badly he may have behaved to you in the past he is still your brother. Cecily Your brother Ernest. He knows perfectly well why. [Jack glares at him and does not take his hand. I’ll tell him to come out. Who do you think is in the dining-room? Your brother! ack. don’t say that. Chasuble These are very joyful tidings. he kisses her brow in a melancholy manner. I think it is perfectly absurd. Cecily Uncle Jack.] Cecily. do be nice. Cecily Uncle Jack. Miss Prism Cecily! Chasuble. I have come down from town to tell you that I am very sorry for all the trouble I have given you. Jack Good heavens! [Motions Algernon away. Miss Prism After we had all been resigned to his loss. his sudden return seems to me peculiarly distressing. He arrived about half an hour ago. Uncle Jack? Do look happy! You look as if you had toothache. But what horrid clothes you have got on! Do go and change them.] 34 Cecily. Jack My brother is in the dining-room? I don’t know what it all means. Jack What nonsense! I haven’t got a brother. They come slowly up to Jack. ack. [Enter Algernon and Cecily hand in hand. I think his coming down here disgraceful. ack. And surely Chasuble.The Importance of Being Earnest [Enter Cecily from the house. Algernon Brother John. You couldn’t be so heartless as to disown him. There is some good in every Cecily.] . one.] ack. Cecily Uncle Jack! Oh. Prism rism.
I expected a more enthusiastic welcome. ack.] ack. he has told me all about poor Mr. has he? Cecily. Cecily Never. Cecily. I won’t have him talk to you about Bunbury or about anything else. Miss Prism We must not be premature in our judgments. Miss Prism Cecily. My little task of reconciliation is over. I have unpacked it and put it in the room next to your own. Jack Oh! he has been talking about Bunbury. Cecily Yes. and his terrible state of health. sir. Ernest’s luggage. [Enter Merriman.Oscar Wilde there must be much good in one who is kind to an invalid. Ernest’s things in the room next to yours. you will come with us. never! ack. never. this is the last time I shall ever do it. Jack Never forgive me? Cecily. especially considering it is the first time I have come here. Miss Prism. you must get out of this place as soon as possible.] 35 Chasuble. Algy. dear child. Cecily I feel very happy. Algernon Of course I admit that the faults were all on my side. Chasuble It’s pleasant. Algernon. I suppose that is all right? ack. It is enough to drive one perfectly frantic. Cecily. Prism rism. sir. if you don’t shake hands with Ernest I will never forgive you. Bunbury. [They all go off except Jack and Algernon. Merriman I have put Mr. I don’t allow any Bunburying here. and leaves the pleasures of London to sit by a bed of pain. Jack Well. Jack Bunbury! Well. Jack You young scoundrel. Prism rism. ack. Cecily Uncle Jack. Chasuble. [Shakes with Algernon and glares. ack. .] erriman. Jack What? erriman. Cecily Certainly. Chasuble You have done a beautiful action to-day. Cecily. to see so perfect a reconciliation? I think we might leave the two brothers together. Merriman Mr. is it not. But I must say that I think that Brother John’s coldness to me is peculiarly painful.
Jack You are not to talk of Miss Cardew like that. you have.] Algernon. I should think it very unkind if you didn’t. You look perfectly ridiculous in them. I don’t like it. Jack Well. Algernon Yes. Three portmanteaus. Merriman Yes. Algernon Well. 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. ack. Jack Yes. Algernon I haven’t heard any one call me. erriman. Merriman Yes. [Goes back into the house. Algernon. if you are not too long. Algernon Well. Jack Your duty as a gentleman calls you back. at any rate. Cecily is a darling. two hat-boxes. It would be most unfriendly. sir. If I were in mourning you would stay with me. ack. I don’t like your clothes. I call it grotesque. I suppose. Algernon. . Ernest has been suddenly called back to town. Algernon My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree. Jack Merriman. ack. Algernon What a fearful liar you are. ack. Jack I can quite understand that. that is better than being always overdressed as you are. a dressing-case. Jack.The Importance of Being Earnest ack. You have got to leave … by the four-five train. and with such little result. sir. Algernon. Jack You are certainly not staying with me for a whole week as a guest or anything else. 36 Algernon. I never saw anybody take so long to dress. Algernon I am afraid I can’t stay more than a week this time. will you go if I change my clothes? Algernon. order the dog-cart at once. Algernon. ack. and a large luncheon-basket. Mr. Algernon. ack. Algernon I certainly won’t leave you so long as you are in mourning. ack. Jack His luggage? erriman. Jack Well. I have not been called back to town at all. ack.
[Enter Cecily at the back of the garden. [Goes into the house. Cecily. sir. Ah. Algernon I am afraid so. I will copy your remarks into my diary. However. I merely came back to water the roses. Cecily It can wait. Cecily I think your frankness does you great credit. Cecily Then have we got to part? Algernon.] erriman. Algernon Thank you. Merriman Yes. 37 Cecily. your conduct an outrage.] Cecily. Algernon. Algernon He’s gone to order the dog-cart for me. Cecily Oh.Oscar Wilde Algernon. Miss. and make arrangements for another Bunbury. Cecily Oh. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable. Ernest. has not been a great success for you. I’m in love with Cecily. She picks up the can and begins to water the flowers. you have got to catch the four-five. Algernon. Algernon If I am occasionally a little over-dressed. It’s a very painful parting. I thought Cecily. [Exit Merriman.] Algernon. you were with Uncle Jack. Algernon I think it has been a great success. as you call it. [Algernon looks erriman. If you will allow me. I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection. Merriman for … five minutes. is he going to take you for a nice drive? Cecily. Cecily It is always painful to part from people whom one Cecily. This Bunburying. appealingly at Cecily. Algernon. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. and your presence in my garden utterly absurd. Cecily. . has known for a very brief space of time. [Enter Merriman. and I hope you will have a pleasant journey back to town. there she is. I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated. Algernon. Algernon I hope.] But I must see her before I go. ack. and that is everything. Jack Your vanity is ridiculous.] Merriman The dog-cart is at the door. Algernon He’s going to send me away.
I am quite ready for more. Algernon Cecily! [Enter Merriman.] Cecily. I don’t care about Jack. [Puts her hand over it. Cecily Oh. erriman.] Algernon. Algernon For the last three months? Cecily Yes. passionately. Cecily. ever since I first Algernon. sir. Ernest. When one is dictating one should speak fluently and not cough. devotedly. [Writes as Algernon speaks. don’t stop. I have dared to love you wildly. Why. Algernon Oh.] Merriman The dog-cart is waiting.] You see. [Merriman retires. May I? Cecily. hopelessly. Cecily Oh no.] Ahem! Ahem! Cecily. I love you. I delight in taking down from dictation. sir. Algernon Do you really keep a diary? I’d give anything to look at it. we have been enCecily. who makes no sign. Algernon Tell it to come round next week. it is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions. hopelessly.] Algernon [Speaking very rapidly. won’t you? Cecily You silly boy! Of course. Algernon But how did we become engaged? . devotedly. I don’t care for anybody in the whole world but you. Cecily Uncle Jack would be very much annoyed if he knew you were staying on till next week. Algernon. Hopelessly doesn’t seem to make much sense. I have reached ‘absolute perfection’. Cecily. gaged for the last three months.The Importance of Being Earnest [Goes over to table and begins writing in diary. Algernon [Somewhat taken aback. does it? 38 Algernon. Besides. looked upon your wonderful and incomparable beauty. and consequently meant for publication. When it appears in volume form I hope you will order a copy. Merriman [Looks at Cecily. You can go on. don’t cough. But pray. at the same hour. Algernon. Ernest.] Yes. Algernon. I don’t know how to spell a cough. erriman. passionately. Cecily I don’t think that you should tell me that you love me wildly.] Cecily. at the same hour. it will be exactly three months on Thursday. Algernon. Cecily. You will marry me. Algernon.
I determined to end the matter one way or the other. Cecily On the 14th of February last. I am very much hurt indeed to hear you broke it off. Worn out by your entire ignorance of my existence. You Cecily.] The three you wrote me after I had broken of the engagement are so beautiful. Cecily. Cecily Well. Cecily Oh. ever since dear Uncle Jack first confessed to us that he had a younger brother who was very wicked and bad. I couldn’t possibly.Oscar Wilde Cecily.] Algernon. and sometimes oftener. and this is the little bangle with the true lover’s knot I promised you always to wear. after all. Algernon Did I give you this? It’s very pretty. Cecily. and so badly spelled. Algernon Oh.’ . And of course a man who is much talked about is always very attractive. Algernon. Cecily You need hardly remind me of that. 39 Algernon But why on earth did you break it off? What had Algernon. I daresay it was foolish of me. Particularly when the weather was so charming. Cecily. I feel it is better to do so. Algernon My letters! But. Cecily? Algernon. [Shows diary. my own sweet Cecily. Cecily Yes. It’s the excuse I’ve always given for your leading such a bad life. Ernest. And this is the box in which I keep all your dear letters. Ernest. They would make you far too conceited. Algernon But was our engagement ever broken off? Cecily Of course it was. I have never written you any letters. do let me read them. but I fell in love with you. I done? I had done nothing at all. isn’t it? Cecily. and produces letters tied up with blue ribbon. Algernon. ment if it hadn’t been broken off at least once. I wrote always three times a week. But I forgave you before the week was out. I remember only too well that I was forced to write your letters for you. One feels there must be something in him. you of course have formed the chief topic of conversation between myself and Miss Prism.] ‘To-day I broke off my engagement with Ernest. [Replaces box. and after a long struggle with myself I accepted you under this dear old tree here. Ernest. opens box. can see the entry if you like. Algernon Darling! And when was the engagement actually settled? Cecily. Cecily It would hardly have been a really serious engageCecily. The next day I bought this little ring in your name. you’ve wonderfully good taste. The weather still continues charming. Algernon. On the 22nd of last March. that even now I can hardly read them without crying a little. [Kneels at table.
Cecily also. of course. [He kisses her. Algernon. of course. darling. Cecily But what name? Algernon. my dear child. Algernon I must see him at once on a most important christening—I mean on most important business. darling.] There is something in that name that seems to inspire absolute confidence. Algernon. but it had always Cecily.] Cecily You must not laugh at me. do you mean to say you could not love me if I had some other name? 40 Cecily. But seriously. Algernon Oh. He has never written a single book. Cecily … [Moving to her] … if my name was Algy. she puts her fingers through his hair.] Your Rector here is. does it? Algernon. Cecily. my own dear. I really can’t see why you should object to the name of Algernon. Algernon. loving little darling. Ernest.The Importance of Being Earnest Algernon. but I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention. I might admire your character. with a little help from others. Cecily [Rising. thoroughly experienced in the practice of all the rites and ceremonials of the Church? Cecily. [Algernon rises. Algernon Yes. couldn’t you love me? Cecily. Algernon But. it is rather an aristocratic name. there is the question of your name. and kneeling. Algernon. Algernon. Chasuble is a most learned man. I pity any poor married woman whose husband is not called Ernest. Cecily I am so glad. In fact. Algernon Ahem! Cecily! [Picking up hat. Algernon [Crossing to her. I suppose.] I hope your hair curls naturally. Cecily I don’t think I could break it off now that I have actually met you. been a girlish dream of mine to love some one whose name was Ernest. Cecily.] I might respect you. Cecily. sweet. Algernon Well. It is not at all a bad name. Cecily Oh.] What a perfect angel you are. Dr. . Algernon. Algernon You’ll never break off our engagement again. any name you like—Algernon—for instance … Cecily But I don’t like the name of Algernon. Algernon Yes. Cecily. yes. Cecily You dear romantic boy. Cecily? Cecily. so you can imagine how much he knows. Besides. [Nervously. Half of the chaps who get into the Bankruptcy Court are called Algernon.
My first impressions of people are never wrong.] Cecily Considering that we have been engaged since FebruCecily. Worthing is sure to be back soon. Cecily Miss Fairfax! I suppose one of the many good elderly women who are associated with Uncle Jack in some of his philanthropic work in London. ary the 14th. My name is Cecily Cardew. Gwendolen endolen. Algernon I shan’t be away more than half an hour.] Merriman A Miss Fairfax has just called to see Mr.Oscar Wilde Cecily. I must enter his proposal in my diary. erriman. Worthing.] [Exit Merriman. Cecily Oh! Algernon. I don’t quite like women who are interested in philanthropic work. Cecily What an impetuous boy he is! I like his hair so much. I think it is so forward of them.] What a very sweet name! Something tells me that we are going to be great friends. Merriman Miss Fairfax. Cecily.] [Kisses her and rushes down the garden. [Enter Merriman. Cecily Isn’t Mr. erriman. I like you already more than I can say. Cecily Pray ask the lady to come out here. Couldn’t you make it twenty minutes? Algernon. Cecily. Cecily. self to you. Worthing in his library? Merriman Mr. Miss Fairfax states. Mr. And you can bring tea. Cecily.] Pray let me introduce myCecily.] erriman. Merriman Yes. Gwendolen Cecily Cardew? [Moving to her and shaking hands. 41 [Enter Gwendolen. Miss.] Cecily [Advancing to meet her. On very important business. [Goes out. [Enter Merriman. and that I only met you to-day for the first time. Worthing went over in the direction of the erriman. I think it is rather hard that you should leave me for so long a period as half an hour. Algernon I’ll be back in no time. . Rectory some time ago.
Cecily Oh! not at all. Gwendolen [Still standing up. I am glad to Gwendolen endolen. has the arduous task of looking after me. no doubt. Gwendolen endolen. Cecily. I think that is quite as it should be. They both sit down together.] Gwendolen endolen. Cecily. It makes men so very attractive. My father is Lord Bracknell. not? Cecily. has brought me up to be extremely short-sighted. Cecily My dear guardian. won’t Gwendolen endolen. you? Cecily. Gwendolen endolen. is it not? Gwendolen endolen. You have never heard of papa. Gwendolen Your guardian? Cecily. 42 Cecily. in fact. Cecily Oh no! I live here. it is part of her system. nor. Cecily If you wish. so do you mind my looking at you through my glasses? . Cecily. Gwendolen. I am very fond of being looked at. Cecily With pleasure! Gwendolen And you will always call me Gwendolen. [A pause. is entirely unknown. Cecily How nice of you to like me so much after we have known each other such a comparatively short time. I suppose? Cecily. I suppose. or some female relative of advanced years.] Really? Your mother. mamma. any relations. whose views on education are remarkably strict. Cecily I hope so. resides here also? Cecily Oh no! I have no mother. The home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man. Gwendolen [Severely. say. Gwendolen Indeed? And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate. may I Gwendolen endolen.] You are here on a short visit. Pray sit down. Cecily.] I may call you Cecily. Gwendolen [After examining Cecily carefully through a lorgnette. Gwendolen Perhaps this might be a favourable opportunity for my mentioning who I am. Gwendolen Outside the family circle. papa. Cecily I don’t think so. Gwendolen endolen. does he not? And I don’t like that. with the assistance of Miss Prism.The Importance of Being Earnest Cecily. Gwendolen Then that is all quite settled. Gwendolen endolen.
that the news inspires me with feelings of unmixed delight. Gwendolen endolen. supplies us with many most painful examples of what I refer to. Gwendolen Yes. I am Mr. In fact. I have liked you ever since I met you! But I am bound to state that now that I know that you are Mr. I cannot help expressing a wish you were—well.] I am very fond of you. Cecily. Cecily. did you say Ernest? Gwendolen endolen. Cecily Pray do! I think that whenever one has anything unpleasant to say. 43 Cecily. Gwendolen endolen.] I beg your pardon? Cecily. Cecily I beg your pardon. If it were not so. How secretive of him! He grows more interesting hourly. Cecily Quite sure. Gwendolen. indeed. but it is not Mr. Cecily. Disloyalty would be as impossible to him as deception. Gwendolen endolen. History would be quite unreadable. I am going to be his. [Rising and going to her. Gwendolen endolen.Oscar Wilde Cecily. if I may speak candidly— Cecily. I am not sure. Cecily [Rather shy and confidingly. Gwendolen [Sitting down again. And now that I think of it I have never heard any man mention his brother. It would have been terrible if any cloud had come across a friendship like ours.] Dearest Gwendolen. and more than usually plain for your age. He is the very soul of truth and honour. It is his brother—his elder brother. guardian. would it not? Of course you are quite. Gwendolen Ah! that accounts for it. to speak with perfect candour. Cecily Yes. Gwendolen [Inquiringly. I was growing almost anxious. there is no reason why I should make a secret of it to you. Modern. Ernest has a strong upright nature.] Ernest never mentioned to me that he had a brother. The subject seems distasteful to most men. I wish that you were fully forty-two.] In fact. [A pause. Worthing’s ward. you have lifted a load from my mind. Cecily Oh. Worthing’s ward. Cecily I am sorry to say they have not been on good terms for a long time. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Oh! It is strange he never mentioned to me that he had a ward. Ernest Worthing who is my Cecily. Cecily. But even men of the noblest possible moral character are extremely susceptible to the influence of the physical charms of others. quite sure that it is not Mr. Gwendolen Well. Our . Ernest Worthing who is your guardian? Cecily. however. just a little older than you seem to be—and not quite so very alluring in appearance. no less than Ancient History. one should always be quite candid.
Gwendolen Do you allude to me. Cecily.] I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. Gwendolen endolen. Ernest Worthing is engaged to me. It becomes a pleasure. I will never reproach him with it after we are married. I think there must be some slight error. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. Gwendolen [Meditatively. dear Gwendolen. under which both girls chafe.] It is certainly very curious. rising.] My darling Cecily. He carries a salver. Gwendolen endolen.] If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty 44 to rescue him at once.] I am afraid you must be under some misconception. Cecily. and with a firm hand. Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago. and plate stand. Gwendolen [Quite politely. Cecily [Very politely.] erriman. Mr. Miss? . The announcement will appear in the Morning Post on Saturday at the latest. The presence of the servants exercises a restraining influence. Cecily [Thoughtfully and sadly. When I see a spade I call it a spade. Miss Fairfax. Gwendolen [Examines diary through her lorgnettte carefully. I am so sorry. If you would care to verify the incident.The Importance of Being Earnest little county newspaper is sure to chronicle the fact next week. that I entrapped Ernest into an engagement? How dare you? This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. Merriman Shall I lay tea here as usual. as an entanglement? You are presumptuous. but I am afraid I have the prior claim. Cecily Do you suggest. if it caused you any mental or physical anguish. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different. On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one’s mind. Ernest Worthing and I are engaged to be married. followed by the footman. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen [Satirically. [Shows diary.] Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen endolen. Mr. Cecily It would distress me more than I can tell you. Cecily. [Enter Merriman.30. rising.] I never travel without my diary. dear Cecily. table cloth. for he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5. [Produces diary of her own. Miss Cardew.] Whatever unfortunate entanglement my dear boy may have got into. if it is any disappointment to you. but I feel bound to point out that since Ernest proposed to you he clearly has changed his mind. pray do so. Cecily. Cecily is about to retort.
Miss Fairfax. Gwendolen [Superciliously. Gwendolen endolen. I have been told.] Sugar? Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen [In a bored manner. Cecily and Gwendolen glare at each other. [Cecily looks angrily at her. Cecily. Gwendolen Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country.] Gwendolen endolen. Cecily [Sweetly.] No. . as usual. Cecily So glad you like it. Miss Fairfax. [Merriman begins to clear table and lay cloth.] Detestable girl! But I require tea! Cecily. in a calm voice.Oscar Wilde Cecily. May I offer you some tea. Sugar is not fashionable any more. please. thank you.] Bread and butter. Miss Cardew. Gwendolen [With elaborate politeness. I hate crowds. Cecily [Sweetly.] Gwendolen Are there many interesting walks in the vicinGwendolen endolen.]Hand that to Miss Fairfax. Cecily Oh! yes! a great many. [Aside. and puts it on the Cecily.] Yes. and beats her foot nervously with her parasol. flowers are as common here. Cecily Ah! This is what the newspapers call agricultural deCecily. pression.] Cake or bread and butter? Cecily. Cecily.] I suppose that is why you live in town? [Gwendolen bites her lip. Cecily Oh. Miss Fairfax? Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Five counties! I don’t think I should like that. Cake is rarely seen at the best houses nowadays. Gwendolen [Looking round.] Cecily [Severely. Gwendolen endolen. 45 Gwendolen endolen. A long pause. Gwendolen endolen. tray. ity. if anybody who is anybody does. The country always bores me to death.] Thank you. Cecily [Sternly. Gwendolen I had no idea there were any flowers in the country. Miss Cardew? Cecily. is it not? I believe the aristocracy are suffering very much from it just at present. From the top of one of the hills quite close one can see five counties.] Quite a well-kept garden this is. as people are in London. Cecily [Cuts a very large slice of cake. takes up the tongs and puts four lumps of sugar into the cup. It is almost an epidemic amongst them. Cecily.
I felt that you were false and deceitful. My first impressions of people are invariably right. but I warn you. that I am trespassing on your valuable time. Cecily [Rising. Cecily Here is Ernest. Cecily It seems to me. Gwendolen From the moment I saw you I distrusted you. Gwendolen endolen. you may go too far. and goes out with footman. Gwendolen Gwendolen [Catching sight of him. Gwendolen I beg your pardon? Gwendolen endolen. reaches out her hand to the bread and butter. Algernon [Goes straight over to Cecily without noticing any Algernon.] Jack! Oh! [Enter Algernon.] Gwendolen endolen. trusting boy from the machinations of any other girl there are no lengths to which I would not go. and finds it is cake.] ack. I am never deceived in such matters. Mr. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition. Rises in indignation. and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature. [Enter Jack. one else.] Cecily. Cecily. you have given me cake.] My own love! [Offers to kiss her. Gwendolen Thank you. Gwendolen You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar. looks at it.] To save my poor. Gwendolen endolen.] A moment! May I ask if you are engaged to be married to this young lady? [Points to Cecily. Cecily [Very sweetly.] endolen. Cecily This is Uncle Jack. Gwendolen [Receding.] .] Gwendolen endolen. Jack Gwendolen! Darling! [Offers to kiss her.] Cecily. innocent. Puts down cup at once. and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter. The gentleman whose arm is at present round your waist is my guardian. Cecily.The Importance of Being Earnest [Merriman does so. Gwendolen [Draws back. Miss Cardew. John Worthing. Jack [Laughing. Miss Fairfax.] I knew there must be some misunderstanding. Gwendolen drinks the tea and makes a grimace.] Ernest! My own Ernest! 46 ack.] To dear little Cecily! Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head? Gwendolen endolen. Miss Fairfax. You may! [Offers her cheek. Cecily. No doubt you have many other calls of a similar character to make in the neighbourhood.
] You will call me sister. Mr. Miss Cardew. Gwendolen Is your name really John? ack. Algernon. Algernon. But my name certainly is John. Cecily [To Gwendolen. Cecily.] To what young lady? Good heavens! Gwendolen! Cecily. there is just one question I would like to be permitted to put to you. Cecily [Rather brightly. Cecily. Cecily. Gwendolen endolen. Jack [Standing rather proudly. I mean to Gwendolen.] A moment. Cecily. I could deny anything if I liked. Cecily My sweet wronged Gwendolen! Gwendolen endolen.] There is just one question I would like to be allowed to ask my guardian. The gentleman who is now embracing you is my cousin. Gwendolen.] Gwendolen I felt there was some slight error. [Presenting her cheek to be kissed. Cecily Are you called Algernon? Algernon I cannot deny it. Cecily [Drawing back.] You may.] Cecily.] Algernon Moncrieff! Oh! [The two girls move towards each other and put their arms round each other’s waists protection. Cecily [Breaking away from Algernon. Gwendolen My poor wounded Cecily! Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen An admirable idea! Mr.] Of course not! What could have put such an idea into your pretty little head? Cecily. [Algernon kisses her.] A gross deception has been practised on both of us. Worthing.Oscar Wilde Cecily. Algernon Moncrieff. Gwendolen [Slowly and seriously. . Cecily Thank you. Where is your brother Ernest? We are both engaged to be married to your brother Ernest. will you not? [They embrace. Jack and Algernon groan and walk up and down. Algernon [Looking round. It has been John for years. Algernon [Laughing. Ernest! May I ask you— are you engaged to be married to this young lady? Algernon. Cecily Yes! to good heavens. Cecily Oh! 47 Gwendolen endolen. so it is a matter of some importance to us to know where your brother Ernest is at present.] Cecily. Gwendolen endolen.] I could deny it if I liked.
I suppose? Algernon. and I am really quite inexperienced in doing anything of the kind.] Had you never a brother of any kind? ack. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Gwendolen Let us go into the house. ack. One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. aren’t they? 48 Algernon. dear Algy. Algernon That is absurd. Jack [Slowly and hesitatingly. Cecily It is not a very pleasant position for a young girl suddenly to find herself in. and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury it is. Cecily. Algernon Yes. Cecily [Surprised.] None! Gwendolen endolen. Jack [Pleasantly. About everything. Jack [Cheerily. Jack This ghastly state of things is what you call Bunburying. You won’t be able to run down to the country quite so often as you used to do. if one wants to have any amusement in life. you’ve no right whatsoever to Bunbury here. I happen to be serious about Bunburying.] Never. one must be serious about something. the only small satisfaction I have in the whole of this wretched business is that your friend Bunbury is quite exploded. However. ack. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life. and I certainly have not the smallest intention of ever having one in the future. I have no brother at all. Is it? endolen. [They retire into the house with scornful looks. Not even of an kind. Cecily. that neither of us is engaged to be married to any one. ack. Every serious Bunburyist knows that.] No brother at all? Cecily. They will hardly venture to come after us there. Cecily.] Gwendolen—Cecily—it is very painful for me to be forced to speak the truth. Gwendolen [Severely. Jack Serious Bunburyist! Good heavens! Algernon. I never had a brother in my life. What on earth you are serious about I haven’t got the remotest idea. Algernon Well. I will tell you quite frankly that I have no brother Ernest. You have such an absolutely trivial nature. Cecily No. I should fancy.The Importance of Being Earnest ack. Jack Well. Gwendolen I am afraid it is quite clear. . men are so cowardly. ack. Jack Well.] ack. And a very good thing too. It is the first time in my life that I have ever been reduced to such a painful position.
] Jack [Rising. Jack I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all. I simply wanted to be engaged to Cecily. when I am in really great trouble. ack. I wouldn’t talk about it. Jack.] . Besides.Oscar Wilde Algernon. Jack Well. To say nothing of the fact that she is my cousin. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble. And not a bad thing either. ack. I must say ack. simple. To say nothing of the fact that she is my ward. 49 Algernon. under the circumstances. that is no business of yours. Algernon If it was my business. ceiving a brilliant. Indeed. Jack How can you sit there. Your brother is a little off colour. [Begins to eat muffins. Algernon Well. Algernon. them all in that greedy way. Jack I wanted to be engaged to Gwendolen. Jack There is certainly no chance of your marrying Miss Cardew. that is all. that your taking in a sweet. ack. thoroughly experienced young lady like Miss Fairfax. isn’t he. as any one who knows me intimately will tell you. that is no reason why you should eat ack. love her. of you and Miss Fairfax being united. Algernon. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. I can’t make out. dear Jack? You won’t be able to disappear to London quite so frequently as your wicked custom was. [Rising. I ack. and then merely at dinner parties. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. It is the only way to eat them. clever. Jack As for your conduct towards Miss Cardew. Algernon. eating is the only thing that consoles me. Only people like stock-brokers do that. I refuse everything except food and drink. Algernon I can see no possible defence at all for your deAlgernon.] Well. I adore her. ack. Algernon I don’t think there is much likelihood. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.] It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. innocent girl like that is quite inexcusable. [Takes muffins from Algernon. I am particularly fond of muffins. Algernon. Algernon Well. Algernon When I am in trouble.
The Importance of Being Earnest Algernon. Algernon [Offering tea-cake.] I wish you would have teacake instead. I don’t like tea-cake. ack. Jack Good heavens! I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden. Algernon. Algernon But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins. Jack I said it was perfectly heartless of you, under the cirack. cumstances. That is a very different thing. Algernon. Algernon That may be. But the muffins are the same. [He seizes the muffin-dish from Jack.] ack. Jack Algy, I wish to goodness you would go. Algernon. Algernon You can’t possibly ask me to go without having some dinner. It’s absurd. I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that. Besides I have just made arrangements with Dr. Chasuble to be christened at a quarter to six under the name of Ernest. ack. Jack My dear fellow, the sooner you give up that nonsense the better. I made arrangements this morning with Dr. Chasuble to be christened myself at 5.30, and I naturally will take the name of Ernest. Gwendolen would wish it. We can’t both 50 be christened Ernest. It’s absurd. Besides, I have a perfect right to be christened if I like. There is no evidence at all that I have ever been christened by anybody. I should think it extremely probable I never was, and so does Dr. Chasuble. It is entirely different in your case. You have been christened already. Algernon. Algernon Yes, but I have not been christened for years. ack. Jack Yes, but you have been christened. That is the important thing. Algernon. Algernon Quite so. So I know my constitution can stand it. If you are not quite sure about your ever having been christened, I must say I think it rather dangerous your venturing on it now. It might make you very unwell. You can hardly have forgotten that some one very closely connected with you was very nearly carried off this week in Paris by a severe chill. Jack Yes, but you said yourself that a severe chill was not ack. hereditary. Algernon. Algernon It usen’t to be, I know—but I daresay it is now. Science is always making wonderful improvements in things. ack. Jack [Picking up the muffin-dish.] Oh, that is nonsense; you are always talking nonsense.
Oscar Wilde Algernon. Algernon Jack, you are at the muffins again! I wish you wouldn’t. There are only two left. [Takes them.] I told you I was particularly fond of muffins. Jack But I hate tea-cake. ack. Algernon. Algernon Why on earth then do you allow tea-cake to be served up for your guests? What ideas you have of hospitality! Jack Algernon! I have already told you to go. I don’t want ack. you here. Why don’t you go! Algernon. Algernon I haven’t quite finished my tea yet! and there is still one muffin left. [Jack groans, and sinks into a chair. Algernon still continues eating.]
Morning-room at the Manor House. [Gwendolen and Cecily are at the window, looking out into the garden.] Gwendolen The fact that they did not follow us at once Gwendolen endolen. into the house, as any one else would have done, seems to me to show that they have some sense of shame left. Cecily. Cecily They have been eating muffins. That looks like repentance. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen [After a pause.] They don’t seem to notice us at all. Couldn’t you cough? Cecily But I haven’t got a cough. Cecily. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen They’re looking at us. What effrontery! Cecily. Cecily They’re approaching. That’s very forward of them. 51
The Importance of Being Earnest Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Let us preserve a dignified silence. Cecily. Cecily Certainly. It’s the only thing to do now. [Enter Jack followed by Algernon. They whistle some dreadful popular air from a British Opera.] Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen This dignified silence seems to produce an unpleasant effect. Cecily A most distasteful one. Cecily. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen But we will not be the first to speak. Cecily. Cecily Certainly not. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Mr. Worthing, I have something very particular to ask you. Much depends on your reply. Cecily. Cecily Gwendolen, your common sense is invaluable. Mr. Moncrieff, kindly answer me the following question. Why did you pretend to be my guardian’s brother? Algernon. Algernon In order that I might have an opportunity of meeting you. Cecily. Cecily [To Gwendolen.] That certainly seems a satisfactory explanation, does it not? 52 Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen Yes, dear, if you can believe him. Cecily. Cecily I don’t. But that does not affect the wonderful beauty of his answer. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen True. In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing. Mr. Worthing, 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? ack. Jack Can you doubt it, Miss Fairfax? Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen I have the gravest doubts upon the subject. But I intend to crush them. This is not the moment for German scepticism. [Moving to Cecily.] Their explanations appear to be quite satisfactory, especially Mr. Worthing’s. That seems to me to have the stamp of truth upon it. Cecily I am more than content with what Mr. Moncrieff Cecily. said. His voice alone inspires one with absolute credulity. endolen. Gwendolen Gwendolen Then you think we should forgive them? Cecily Yes. I mean no. Cecily. Gwendolen endolen. Gwendolen True! I had forgotten. There are principles at
] racknell. Worthing.Oscar Wilde stake that one cannot surrender. [Enter Lady Bracknell. Gwendolen endolen. Cecily They have moments of physical courage of which we women know absolutely nothing.] Gwendolen Gwendolen and Cecily [Speaking together.] [Enter Merriman. Cecily [To Algernon. Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one. Gwendolen [To Jack. ack. [Clasps hands with Algernon.] Our Christian names! Is that all? But we are going to be christened this afternoon. Bracknell Lady Bracknell Gwendolen! What does this mean? Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned.] erriman. Cecily Could we not both speak at the same time? Gwendolen endolen. Jack Good heavens! . Cecily.] For my sake you are prepared to do this terrible thing? Jack I am. Gwendolen An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. Gwendolen Merely that I am engaged to be married to Mr.] To please me you are ready to face this fearful ordeal? Algernon I am! Algernon. Cecily Certainly. Merriman Ahem! Ahem! Lady Bracknell! ack. The couples separate in alarm. Gwendolen Gwendolen How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! 53 Gwendolen endolen. seeing the situation. men are infinitely beyond us. Jack We are. Cecily.] Darling! Algernon. Gwendolen [To Jack. When he enters he coughs loudly.] Darling! [They fall into each other’s arms. [Gwendolen beats time with uplifted finger.] Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. Exit Merriman. ack. That is all! Jack and Algernon [Speaking together. Algernon [To Cecily. Gwendolen endolen.] Cecily. Will you take the time from me? Cecily. mamma. endolen.
If so. and acted under proper medical advice. Lady Bracknell May I ask if it is in this house that your Bracknell racknell. But of course. Her unhappy father is. that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action.The Importance of Being Earnest Bracknell racknell. that is what I mean—so Bunbury died. however. Bunbury was interested in social legislation. as indeed on all points. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon. Lady Bracknell Dead! When did Mr. Lady Bracknell What did he die of? Bracknell racknell. as regards Algernon! … Algernon! Algernon. Bracknell Lady Bracknell He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr. I am firm.] Apprised. Sit down. Bunbury is dead. I mean he was found out! The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live. ack. On this point.] Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon. Algernon My dear Aunt Augusta. he is well punished for his morbidity. Algernon. Algernon [Stammering. of physical weakness in the old. of my daughter’s sudden flight by her trusty maid. racknell. invalid friend Mr. Lady Bracknell Come here. Jack I am engaged to be married to Gwendolen Lady Bracknell! Lady Bracknell You are nothing of the kind. Aunt Augusta. he was quite exploded. Bracknell racknell. Algernon. I do not propose to undeceive him. In fact. . may I ask. sir. And now. Bracknell racknell. Hesitation of any kind is a sign of mental decay in the young. Bracknell racknell. [Turns to Jack. I am glad to say. I am glad. Algernon [Airily. Algernon. I followed her at once by a luggage train. Mr. you will clearly understand that all communication between yourself and my daughter must cease immediately from this moment. Bunbury is somewhere else at present. Bunbury. Algernon Bunbury? Oh. Algernon Yes. whose confidence I purchased by means of a small coin. sir. Indeed I have never undeceived him on any question. 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.] Oh! No! Bunbury doesn’t live here. Lady Bracknell Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. Sit down immediately. Bunbury die? His death must have been extremely sudden. Bunbury resides? 54 Algernon. I would consider it wrong.
who is that young person whose hand my nephew Algernon is now holding in what seems to me a peculiarly unnecessary manner? Jack That lady is Miss Cecily Cardew.] Miss Cardew is the grand-daughter of the late Mr. Lady Bracknell. Gervase Park. Lady Bracknell [With a shiver. N. Bracknell racknell. Markby. Algernon I am engaged to be married to Cecily. and the . Three addresses always inspire confidence. Surrey. Thomas Cardew of 149 Belgrave Square. is Miss Cardew at all connected with any of the larger railway stations in London? I merely desire information. They are open to your inspection. but the number of engagements that go on seems to me considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance. baptism. and Markby? A firm of the very highest position in their profession.] 55 ack. Worthing. Bracknell racknell. But what proof have I of their authenticity? Jack I have carefully preserved the Court Guides of the peack. ack.W. Cecily Mr. Bracknell racknell. Jack [Very irritably. and the Sporran. Mr. Lady Bracknell [Grimly. ack. Indeed I am told that one of the Mr. registration.. even in tradesmen. vaccination. Until yesterday I had no idea that there were any families or persons whose origin was a Terminus.] Algernon. [Lady ack. crossing to the sofa and sitting down. Bracknell bows coldly to Cecily. Aunt Augusta. Lady Bracknell! I have also in my possession. my ward. but restrains himself. Jack Miss Cardew’s family solicitors are Messrs. Jack [In a clear. I think some preliminary inquiry on my part would not be out of place. Dorking. Moncrieff and I are engaged to be married. Bracknell racknell.B. Lady Bracknell I beg your pardon? Cecily. Lady Bracknell That sounds not unsatisfactory. Fifeshire. Markby. S. and Markby. Markby.Oscar Wilde Worthing. certificates of Miss Cardew’s birth. Bracknell racknell. cold voice. Lady Bracknell Markby. riod. Lady Bracknell.] I have known strange errors in that publication. [Jack looks perfectly furious. So far I am satisfied.] How extremely kind of you.] I do not know whether there is anything peculiarly exciting in the air of this particular part of Hertfordshire. whooping cough. you will be pleased to hear. confirmation. Markby’s is occasionally to be seen at dinner parties.
and improve with time. But I never dreamed for a mo- . Lady Bracknell [Sitting down again. in an age of surfaces. I am not myself in favour of premature experiences. with a practised smile. Worthing.] No. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. I had better ask you if Miss Cardew has any little fortune? ack. and after three months her own husband did not know her. [Rises. Lady Bracknell. though perhaps somewhat too exciting for a young girl. Goodbye. Jack And after six months nobody knew her. Aunt Augusta! Lady Bracknell There are distinct social possibilities in Miss Bracknell racknell. Algernon! Algernon. That is all. [Cecily goes across. Algernon.] Yes. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities.] Come over here. Cardew’s profile. Lady Bracknell Never speak disrespectfully of Society. dear. quite as I expected. looks at her watch. Algernon. Lady Bracknell [Glares at Jack for a few moments. Mr. Lady Bracknell Ah! A life crowded with incident. But I do not approve of mercenary marriages. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. sweet child.] Gwendolen! the time approaches for our departure. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing. Worthing. And I don’t care twopence about social possibilities.] Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple. Bracknell racknell. 56 ack. now that I look at her. dear. Bracknell racknell. [Cecily turns completely round. I regret to say. I see. We have not a moment to lose. just at present. dearest. So pleased to have seen you. the side view is what I want. [Cecily presents her profile. prettiest girl in the whole world.] Dear child. of course you know that Algernon has nothing but his debts to depend upon. Algernon Yes. [To Cecily. and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. any of the qualities that last. Only people who can’t get into it do that. The two weak points in our age are its want of principle and its want of profile. A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady. both the German and the English variety. They are worn very high. Jack Oh! about a hundred and thirty thousand pounds in the Funds. Then bends. But we can soon alter all that. Bracknell racknell.] A moment. There are distinct social possibilities in your profile.The Importance of Being Earnest measles.] Kindly turn round. to Cecily. Bracknell racknell. As a matter of form. We live. When I married Lord Bracknell I had no fortune of any kind. Algernon Cecily is the sweetest. Mr. The chin a little higher. [To Cecily.
Aunt Augusta. Well. Cecily Thank you. I suspect him of being untruthful. Aunt Augusta. but the fact is that I do not approve at all of his moral character. wine I was specially reserving for myself. He has nothing. I suppose I must give my consent. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage. Algernon. Lady Bracknell You may also address me as Aunt Augusta Bracknell racknell. ’89. I think. Cecily Thank you. Jack I beg your pardon for interrupting you. What more can one desire? ack. Lady Bracknell Upon what grounds may I ask? Algernon is an extremely. Aunt Augusta. but he looks everything. which I think is never advisable. [Algernon and Cecily look at him in indignant amazement. Bracknell racknell. Jack I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter. Lady Bracknell The marriage. ack. had better take place Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell Cecily. eligible young man. I am not in favour of long engagements. This afternoon during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance. 57 but this engagement is quite out of the question. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell. Cecily [Kisses her. I may almost say an ostentatiously. Aunt Augusta.] Thank you. Continuing his disgraceful deception. quite soon. Bracknell Lady Bracknell To speak frankly. Jack It pains me very much to have to speak frankly to you. he succeeded in the . Under an assumed name he drank. an entire pint bottle of my PerrierJouet. and she cannot marry without my consent until she comes of age. Bracknell racknell. That consent I absolutely decline to give. ack. racknell. Algernon. for the future. Lady Bracknell. Algernon Thank you.Oscar Wilde ment of allowing that to stand in my way. I am Miss Cardew’s guardian. Cecily. I’ve just been informed by my butler. Algernon Thank you. Brut. you may kiss me! Cecily. he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. about your nephew.] Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell Untruthful! My nephew Algernon? Impossible! He is an Oxonian. Cecily.
remained thirty-five for years. I distinctly told him so myself yesterday afternoon. Lady Bracknell That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. sweet child. Lady Bracknell Ahem! Mr. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. [Cecily goes over. Indeed. Cecily. but I couldn’t wait all that time. but I always admit to twenty when I go to evening parties. and waiting. Bracknell racknell. but I do like punctuality in others. that he was perfectly well aware from the first that I have no brother. I am really only eighteen.] Eighteen. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty. no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. could you wait for me till I was thirty-five? Algernon. Bracknell racknell. There will be a large accumulation of property. Jack Pray excuse me.] Come here. I know. Cecily. Cecily. You know I could. racknell. dear? Cecily. Cecily Well. is unalterable. for interrupting you again. Bracknell Lady Bracknell You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration. I am not punctual myself. a matter of any importance. Jack That is very generous of you. 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. Algernon Of course I could. Worthing. He subsequently stayed to tea. of their own free choice. that I never had a brother. ack. Cecily Yes. after careful consideration I have decided entirely to overlook my nephew’s conduct to you. It looks so calculating … [In a meditative manner. Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell [To Cecily. it will not be very long before you are of age and free from the restraints of tutelage. Lady Bracknell. It always makes me rather cross.The Importance of Being Earnest course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward. even to be married. 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. which was many years ago now. I decline to give my consent. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have. Cecily Algy. I felt it instinctively. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. So I don’t think your 58 guardian’s consent is. and devoured every single muffin. but admitting to twenty at evening parties. not even of any kind. however. My own decision. And what makes his conduct all the more heartless is. I hate waiting even five minutes for anybody. ack. after all. Well. Bracknell racknell. .] How old are you. is quite out of the question. and that I don’t intend to have a brother.
] Both these gentlemen have expressed a desire for immediate baptism. I will most gladly allow your nephew to form an alliance with my ward. and pointing to Jack and Algernon. dear. However. I forbid you to be baptized. states positively that she cannot wait till she is thirty-five—a remark which I am bound to say seems to me to show a somewhat impatient nature—I would beg of you to reconsider your decision. 59 [Enter Dr. Mr. Bracknell racknell. Chasuble Everything is quite ready for the christenings. The moment you consent to my marriage with Gwendolen.] Chasuble. Chasuble. if not six. Algernon Then what is to be done. the matter is entirely in your own hands. as things are now. premature? Chasuble. Jack But my dear Lady Bracknell. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.] You must be quite aware that what you propose is out of the question. Lady Bracknell The christenings. Chasuble. Dr. Moncrieff. of course. as Miss Cardew Bracknell racknell. I will not hear of such excesses. Jack I don’t think that. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money. Cecily? Cecily.] Come. as your present mood . Chasuble Am I to understand then that there are to be no christenings at all this afternoon? ack. ack. [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five. Algernon. sir! Is not that somewhat Bracknell racknell. Chasuble [Looking rather puzzled. Chasuble I am grieved to hear such sentiments from you. Lady Bracknell That is not the destiny I propose for Gwendolen. Lady Bracknell [Rising and drawing herself up. Lady Bracknell My dear Mr. Chasuble. Bracknell racknell. They savour of the heretical views of the Anabaptists. Bracknell racknell. Mr. ack. [Pulls out her watch. can choose for himself. Cecily I don’t know. Worthing. Lady Bracknell At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon. it would be of much practical value to either of us. Worthing. views that I have completely refuted in four of my unpublished sermons. Chasuble. trains.Oscar Wilde Algernon. Jack Then a passionate celibacy is all that any of us can look forward to.
Indeed. and the very picture of respectability. Lady Bracknell Pray allow me to detain you for a moment. Upper Grosvenor Street. Chasuble. has been for the last three years Miss Cardew’s esteemed governess and valued companion. Number 104. Chasuble [Somewhat indignantly. 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 In spite of what I hear of her. I must see her at once. you left Lord Bracknell’s house. judicial voice. Lady Bracknell. You never returned.] I am a celibate. The Canon starts back in horror. Lady Bracknell. Chasuble [Looking off.] Prism! Where is that baby? [General consternation. Algernon and Jack pretend to be anxious to shield Cecily and Gwendolen from hearing the details of a terrible public scandal. Is this Miss Prism a female of repellent aspect. dear Canon.] Miss Prism! Did I bear you mention a Miss Prism? Chasuble. Jack [Interposing.] Prism rism.] Twenty-eight years ago. [Catches sight of Lady Bracknell. Chasuble [Severely. Bracknell racknell.] She is the most cultivated of ladies. Prism. madam. [Miss . This matter may prove to be one of vital importance to Lord Bracknell and myself. Miss Prism grows pale and quails. Lady Bracknell [In a severe. the perambulator was discovered at midnight.] Bracknell racknell. Lady Bracknell [Starting. It contained the manuscript of a three-volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality.] Miss Prism. Chasuble Yes. I have been waiting for you there for an hour and three-quarters.] Prism! [Miss Prism bows her head in shame. Prism! [Miss Prism approaches in a humble manner. in charge of a perambulator that contained a baby of the male sex. Bracknell racknell. [Enter Miss Prism hurriedly. A few weeks later.The Importance of Being Earnest seems to be one peculiarly secular. she is nigh. standing by itself in a remote corner of Bayswater. who has fixed her with a stony glare. She looks anxiously round as if desirous to escape. Lady Bracknell It is obviously the same person. through the elaborate investigations of the Metropolitan police.] Come here. ack. 60 Bracknell racknell. Bracknell racknell. May I ask what position she holds in your household? Chasuble. Miss Prism I was told you expected me in the vestry. I am on my way to join her. I will return to the church at once.] She approaches. Let her be sent for. remotely connected with education? Chasuble.
] Victoria. [Noises heard overhead as if some one was throwing trunks about. for which I never can forgive myself.] Cecily. and placed the baby in the hand-bag. 61 ack.Oscar Wilde Prism starts in involuntary indignation. It sounds as if he was having an argument.] But where did you deposit the hand-bag? Miss Prism Do not ask me. I need hardly tell you that in families of high position strange coincidences are not supposed to occur. Every one looks up. [Sinks into a chair. Jack I must retire to my room for a moment. 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. ack. Lady Bracknell I dare not even suspect. I only wish I did. I dislike arguments of any . Gwendolen. Dr. a day that is for ever branded on my memory.] Prism! Where is that baby? [A pause. They are hardly considered the thing. Jack Miss Prism. I had also with me a somewhat old. Worthing. I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. Cecily Uncle Jack seems strangely agitated.] But the baby was not there! [Every one looks at Miss Prism.] Miss Prism Lady Bracknell. Gwendolen endolen. Lady Bracknell? Bracknell racknell. Mr. Chasuble. ack. The Brighton line. I will wait here for you all my life. not know.] Chasuble. Jack [Who has been listening attentively. I insist on knowing where you deposited the hand-bag that contained that infant. [Exit Jack in great excitement. On the morning of the day you mention. Chasuble What do you think this means. Prism rism. Chasuble Your guardian has a very emotional nature. Bracknell racknell. this is a matter of no small importance to me. Gwendolen If you are not too long. wait here for me. Miss Prism I left it in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London. The plain facts of the case are these.] ack. Chasuble. Miss Prism [Quite crushed. I admit with shame that I do Prism rism. I deposited the manuscript in the basinette. Prism rism. In a moment of mental abstraction. Lady Bracknell This noise is extremely unpleasant. Jack What railway station? Prism rism.
] Is this the hand-bag. Miss Prism? Examine it carefully before you speak. Jack Algy’s elder brother! Then I have a brother after all. I hate to seem inquisitive.] Lady Bracknell. The happiness of more than one life depends on your answer.] You? ack. Here is the stain on the lining caused by the explosion of a temperance beverage. Worthing. [The noise is redoubled. Lady Bracknell I am afraid that the news I have to give you will not altogether please you. I forgive you. and consequently Algernon’s elder brother.] It seems to be mine.] Bracknell racknell. Chasuble [Looking up.The Importance of Being Earnest kind. Miss Prism [Still more indignant. on the lock. It has been a great inconvenience being without it all these years.] ack. Miss Prism [Amazed. They are always vulgar.] Yes … mother! M iss Prism [Recoiling in indignant astonishment. an incident that occurred at Leamington. Jack [In a pathetic voice.] It has stopped now. Mrs. and another for women? Mother. Jack [Rushing over to Miss Prism. [Pointing to Lady Bracknell. I was the baby you placed in it. And here. 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. You are the son of my poor sister. Miss Prism [Calmly. and often convincing. Jack Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. ack. Jack [After a pause.— . 62 Prism rism. Gwendolen This suspense is terrible.] Mr. Gwendolen endolen. I am delighted to have it so unexpectedly restored to me. I knew I had a brother! I always said I had a brother! Cecily. Moncrieff. I hope it will last. Prism rism. ack. Chasuble. ack. Jack [Embracing her. [Enter Jack with a hand-bag of black leather in his hand. more is restored to you than this hand-bag. here is the Prism rism.] There is the lady who can tell you who you really are. are my initials. But after all. I had forgotten that in an extravagant mood I had had them placed there.] Mr. there is some error. injury it received through the upsetting of a Gower Street omnibus in younger and happier days. but would you kindly inform me who I am? Bracknell racknell.] Prism rism.] Miss Prism. Yes. The bag is undoubtedly mine. Worthing! I am unmarried! ack. [Tries to embrace her again. Lady Bracknell I wish he would arrive at some conclusion.
Being the eldest son you were naturally christened after your father. we were never even on speaking terms. and marriage. Jack Good heavens! … I had quite forgotten that point. Gwendolen [To Jack. I admit. what name ack. however. I admit. But I have no doubt he had one. now that you have become some one else? ack. had I been christened already? 63 Bracknell racknell. I suppose. including christening. Jack Algy! Can’t you recollect what our father’s Christian ack. Gwendolen I never change. I did my best. and indigestion. and other things of that kind. except in my affections. Miss Prism. At the time when Miss Prism left me in the hand-bag. not till to-day. old boy.Oscar Wilde how could you have ever doubted that I had a brother? [Seizes hold of Algernon. ack. was I given? Let me know the worst. Jack [Irritably. Lady Bracknell. my unfortunate brother. you will have to treat me with more respect in the future. you young scoundrel. Cecily. Chasuble. [Shakes hands.] Yes. Algernon Well. He was eccentric. Jack Then I was christened! That is settled. but what was my father’s Christian name? Bracknell racknell. ack. name was? Algernon. Algernon My dear boy. ack. Aunt Augusta? . Jack His name would appear in the Army Lists of the period. Now. a moment. But only in later years. Your decision on the subject of my name is irrevocable. Aunt Augusta. Gwendolen.] My own! But what own are you? What is your Christian name. Lady Bracknell [Meditatively.] Dr. my unfortunate brother. though I was out of practice.] Gwendolen endolen. had been lavished on you by your fond and doting parents. And that was the result of the Indian climate.] I cannot at the present moment recall what the General’s Christian name was. You have never behaved to me like a brother in all your life. He died before I was a year old. Cecily What a noble nature you have. Lady Bracknell Every luxury that money could buy. Gwendolen! Jack Then the question had better be cleared up at once. Algy. I suppose? Gwendolen endolen. my unfortunate brother. Algernon.
] At last! ack. For I feel that you are sure to change.] At last! Lady Bracknell.] M. Can you forgive me? Gwendolen endolen. Lieutenant-Colonel.] Frederick! At last! Prism rism. Jack On the contrary.] Miss Prism [Enthusiastically. My nephew. didn’t I? Well. Mobbs. Migsby. Moncrieff! Lieutenant 1840. you seem to be displaying signs of triviality. I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest. But I have no doubt his name would appear in any military directory. my name was Ernest. that you could have no other name! ack. what ghastly names they have— Markby. These ack.The Importance of Being Earnest Bracknell racknell. Jack My own one! Chasuble. [Puts book very quietly down and speaks quite calmly. Algernon. I mean it naturally is Ernest.] Laetitia! [Embraces her. ack. Christian names. it is Ernest after all. I remember now that the General was called Ernest. Algernon Cecily! [Embraces her. except in his domestic life. Magley. 64 ack. it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Captain. Bracknell racknell. I knew I had some particular reason for disliking the name. Lady Bracknell The General was essentially a man of peace. Chasuble [To Miss Prism. Tableau . Gwendolen.] I always told you. Jack Gwendolen! [Embraces her. Gwendolen I can. Maxbohm. delightful records should have been my constant study. Jack The Army Lists of the last forty years are here. General 1869. Gwendolen Ernest! My own Ernest! I felt from the first Gwendolen endolen. Aunt Augusta. [Rushes to bookcase and tears the books out. Ernest John. Jack Gwendolen. Generals … Mallam. Lady Bracknell Yes. Colonel.
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