Caitlin Jeffery

Exploring the depths of digital literature

The Importance of Being Who?

on March 8, 2013

I love this play so so much. You have these people who live a lives of responsibility, obligation, and must live up to certain standards and as an escape from that world, so they create an alter ego of sorts. That alter ego gives them a freedom proper society doesn’t let them have. This of course leads to a hilarious turn of events once Algernon discovers Ernest is not being earnest and is really Jack. Algernon sympathizes as he has a made up ill uncle he uses to get away himself. Eventually they both pretend to be Ernest in earnest to woo the women they love. In the end they discover Jack is in fact Ernest and was accidentally earnest by saying he had a troublesome younger brother, since he discovers Algernon is his younger brother.

Algernon: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!”

The best scene is when Gwendolen and Cecily are at tea and discover they are both engaged to the same person, but not the same person, and in fact no person. In the end you get a 1950s film perfect ending where everyone ends up with who they should and no sooner then they need to.

I think we all to some extent create alternate versions of ourselves in different ways. Some people do it by drinking and some just by changing what friends they are with. I know when I am with certain people I feel I can be louder, sillier, and crazier. It isn’t who I am normally, but it is nice to have a change of pace. When I am with my kids I tend to be more mindful of how I act and the words I say, so it can be refreshing to get away and swear like a sailor. Algernon and Jack just take it to a different level by literally being people they aren’t.

All in all this play is hilarious. Wilde’s play on words and witty dialogue is timeless. Love love love this play.


2 responses to “The Importance of Being Who?

  1. carrieglovka says:

    I really like your observation “I think we all to some extent create alternate versions of ourselves in different ways.” I know that while I don’t change who I am necessarily, I do conform to certain situations. For instance I act more recently and respectful in church, I act professional at work, I act parental around my daughter, etc. These are all appropriate modifications, it’s when we try to change fundamentally that it becomes an issue. I’m sure at times as a teenager, I acted in ways contrary to my “self” in order to appease my parents.

  2. kbehre says:

    It’s one of my all-time favorites as well. 🙂

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