“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde

earnestTitle: The Importance of Being Earnest. A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
Author: Oscar Wilde
Editor: Agrupamento de Escolas Leal da Câmara, February 2014
Cover Image: Giovanni Boldini: Portrait of a Dandy

The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ in order to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play’s major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play’s humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde’s artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde’s most enduringly popular play.

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