New Page 1




Selettore risorse   



                                         IL Metodo  |  Grammatica  |  RISPOSTE GRAMMATICALI  |  Multiblog  |  INSEGNARE AGLI ADULTI  |  INSEGNARE AI BAMBINI  |  AudioBooks  |  RISORSE SFiziosE  |  Articoli  |  Tips  | testi pAralleli  |  VIDEO SOTTOTITOLATI
                                                                                         ESERCIZI :   Serie 1 - 2 - 3  - 4 - 5  SERVIZI:   Pronunciatore di inglese - Dizionario - Convertitore IPA/UK - IPA/US - Convertitore di valute in lire ed euro                                              




- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. A Christmas Carol
  2. Adam Bede
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. All's Well That Ends Well
  5. A Midsummer Night's Dream
  6. A Modest Proposal
  7. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  8. An Ideal Husband
  9. Antony and Cleopatra
  10. A Passage to India
  11. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  12. Arms and the Man
  13. A Room With A View
  14. A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
  15. A Study in Scarlet
  16. As You Like It
  17. A Tale of a Tub
  18. A Tale of Two Cities
  19. A Woman of No Importance
  20. Barnaby Rudge
  21. Beowulf
  22. Bleak House
  23. Book of Common Prayer
  24. Candida
  25. Captains Courageous
  26. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
  27. Clarissa
  28. Coriolanus
  29. Daniel Deronda
  30. David Copperfield
  31. Dombey and Son
  32. Don Juan
  33. Emma
  34. Finnegans Wake
  35. Four Quartets
  36. Frankenstein
  37. Great Expectations
  38. Gulliver's Travels
  39. Hamlet
  40. Hard Times
  41. Howards End
  42. Ivanhoe
  43. Jane Eyre
  44. Julius Caesar
  45. Kim
  46. King James Version of the Bible
  47. King Lear
  48. King Solomon's Mines
  49. Lady Chatterley's Lover
  50. Lady Windermere's Fan
  51. Leviathan
  52. Little Dorrit
  53. Love's Labour's Lost
  54. Macbeth
  55. Major Barbara
  56. Mansfield Park
  57. Martin Chuzzlewit
  58. Measure for Measure
  59. Middlemarch
  60. Moll Flanders
  61. Mrs. Dalloway
  62. Mrs. Warren's Profession
  63. Much Ado About Nothing
  64. Murder in the Cathedral
  65. Nicholas Nickleby
  66. Northanger Abbey
  67. Nostromo
  68. Ode on a Grecian Urn
  69. Oliver Twist
  70. Othello
  71. Our Mutual Friend
  72. Pamela or Virtue Rewarded
  73. Paradise Lost
  74. Paradise Regained
  75. Peregrine Pickle
  76. Persuasion
  77. Peter Pan
  78. Pride and Prejudice
  79. Pygmalion
  80. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  81. Robinson Crusoe
  82. Rob Roy
  83. Roderick Random
  84. Romeo and Juliet
  85. Saint Joan
  86. Salomé
  87. Sense and Sensibility
  88. She Stoops to Conquer
  89. Silas Marner
  90. Sons and Lovers
  91. The Alchemist
  92. The Beggar's Opera
  93. The Canterbury Tales
  94. The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes
  95. The Castle of Otranto
  96. The Comedy of Errors
  97. The Dunciad
  98. The Elder Statesman
  99. The Faerie Queene
  100. The Happy Prince and Other Tales
  101. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  102. The Hound of the Baskervilles
  103. The Importance of Being Earnest
  104. The Jungle Book
  105. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
  106. The Man Who Would Be King
  107. The Master of Ballantrae
  108. The Merchant of Venice
  109. The Merry Wives of Windsor
  110. The Mill on the Floss
  111. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  112. The Nigger of the Narcissus
  113. The Old Curiosity Shop
  114. The Pickwick Papers
  115. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  116. The Pilgrim's Progress
  117. The Rape of the Lock
  118. The Second Jungle Book
  119. The Secret Agent
  120. The Sign of Four
  121. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  122. The Tempest
  123. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
  124. The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  125. The Vicar of Wakefield
  126. The Waste Land
  127. The Winter's Tale
  128. Timon of Athens
  129. Titus Andronicus
  130. To the Lighthouse
  131. Treasure Island
  132. Troilus and Cressida
  133. Twelfth Night, or What You Will
  134. Typhoon
  135. Ulysses
  136. Vanity Fair
  137. Volpone
  138. Wuthering Heights


L'utente può utilizzare il nostro sito solo se comprende e accetta quanto segue:

  • Le risorse linguistiche gratuite presentate in questo sito si possono utilizzare esclusivamente per uso personale e non commerciale con tassativa esclusione di ogni condivisione comunque effettuata. Tutti i diritti sono riservati. La riproduzione anche parziale è vietata senza autorizzazione scritta.
  • Il nome del sito EnglishGratis è esclusivamente un marchio e un nome di dominio internet che fa riferimento alla disponibilità sul sito di un numero molto elevato di risorse gratuite e non implica dunque alcuna promessa di gratuità relativamente a prodotti e servizi nostri o di terze parti pubblicizzati a mezzo banner e link, o contrassegnati chiaramente come prodotti a pagamento (anche ma non solo con la menzione "Annuncio pubblicitario"), o comunque menzionati nelle pagine del sito ma non disponibili sulle pagine pubbliche, non protette da password, del sito stesso.
  • La pubblicità di terze parti è in questo momento affidata al servizio Google AdSense che sceglie secondo automatismi di carattere algoritmico gli annunci di terze parti che compariranno sul nostro sito e sui quali non abbiamo alcun modo di influire. Non siamo quindi responsabili del contenuto di questi annunci e delle eventuali affermazioni o promesse che in essi vengono fatte!
  • L'utente, inoltre, accetta di tenerci indenni da qualsiasi tipo di responsabilità per l'uso - ed eventuali conseguenze di esso - degli esercizi e delle informazioni linguistiche e grammaticali contenute sul siti. Le risposte grammaticali sono infatti improntate ad un criterio di praticità e pragmaticità più che ad una completezza ed esaustività che finirebbe per frastornare, per l'eccesso di informazione fornita, il nostro utente. La segnalazione di eventuali errori è gradita e darà luogo ad una immediata rettifica.


    ENGLISHGRATIS.COM è un sito personale di
    Roberto Casiraghi e Crystal Jones
    email: robertocasiraghi at iol punto it

    Roberto Casiraghi           
    INFORMATIVA SULLA PRIVACY              Crystal Jones

    Siti amici:  Lonweb Daisy Stories English4Life Scuolitalia
    Sito segnalato da INGLESE.IT


This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

The Importance of Being Earnest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde, a comedy of manners in either three or four acts (depending on edition) inspired by W. S. Gilbert's Engaged.[1] It was first performed for the public on February 14, 1895 at the St. James' Theatre in London.

It is set in England during the Victorian era, and its primary source of humour is based upon the main character John's fictitious younger brother Ernest. John's surname, Worthing, is taken from the town where Wilde was staying when he wrote the play.

Wilde's plays had reached a pinnacle of success and anything new from the playwright was eagerly awaited. The press were always hungry for details and would pursue stories about new plots and characters with a vengeance. To combat this Wilde gave the play a working title, Lady Lancing. The use of seaside town names for leading characters, or the locations of their inception, can be recognised in all four of Wilde's society plays.

Plot summary

Algernon, a wealthy young Londoner, pretends to have a friend named Bunbury who lives in the country and frequently is in ill health. Whenever Algernon wants to avoid an unwelcome social obligation, or just get away for the weekend, he makes an ostensible visit to his "sick friend." In this way Algernon can feign piety and dedication, while having the perfect excuse to get out of town, avoiding his responsibilities. He calls this practice "Bunburying."

The original production of The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895 with Allan Aynesworth as Algernon (left) and George Alexander as Jack (right)
The original production of The Importance of Being Earnest in 1895 with Allan Aynesworth as Algernon (left) and George Alexander as Jack (right)

Algernon's real-life best friend lives in the country but makes frequent visits to London. This friend's name is Ernest...or so Algernon thinks. When Ernest leaves his silver cigarette case at Algernon's rooms he finds an inscription in it that claims that it is "From little Cecily with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack". This forces Ernest to eventually disclose that his visits to the city are also examples of "Bunburying," much to Algernon's delight.

In the country, "Ernest" goes by his real name, Jack Worthing, and pretends that he has a wastrel brother named Ernest, who lives in London. When honest Jack comes to the city, he assumes the name, and behaviour, of the profligate Ernest. In the country Jack assumes a more serious attitude for the benefit of Cecily, who is his ward.

Jack himself wishes to marry Gwendolen, who is Algernon's cousin, but runs into a few problems. First, Gwendolen seems to love him only because she believes his name is Ernest, which she thinks is the most beautiful name in the world. Second, Gwendolen's mother is the terrifying Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell is horrified when she learns that Jack was adopted as a toddler when he was discovered in a handbag at a railway station. In her opinion it is absolutely below the standards of her daughter to "marry into a cloakroom and form an alliance with a parcel", as she puts it.

Jack's description of Cecily appeals to Algernon who resolves to meet her. Algernon soon gets the idea to visit Jack in the country, pretending that he is the mysterious brother "Ernest." Unfortunately, Jack has decided to give up his Bunburying, and to do this he has announced the tragic death of Ernest.

A series of comic misunderstandings follows, as Algernon-as-Ernest visits the country (as a dead man, as far as the hosts are aware), and Jack shows up in his mourning clothes. There he encounters Jack's ward, Cecily, who believes herself in love with Ernest - the non-existent brother she has never met. After Lady Bracknell arrives, it is discovered that Jack is a nephew of Lady Bracknell who was lost by Miss Prism, Cecily’s governess, who was then working for Lady Bracknell’s sister. That also makes him Algernon's elder brother. It is also discovered that Jack’s real name is Ernest. It is suggested at the end of the play that Ernest/Jack will marry Gwendolen and Algernon will marry Cecily. The play contains many examples of Wilde's famous wit. Many readers and scholars have agreed that Algernon represents Wilde's surrogate; he delivers many of the witty one-liners.


Lady Bracknell and Jack Worthing
Lady Bracknell and Jack Worthing

It has a small cast, which is as follows:

  • Jack Worthing (Ernest) In love with Gwendolen, bachelor. Adopted by Thomas Cardew
  • Algernon Moncrieff (Algy) First cousin of Gwendolen. Bachelor. Nephew of Lady Bracknell
  • Lady Bracknell
  • Cecily Cardew (ward to Jack Worthing) lives at his country house in Hertfordshire
  • Gwendolen Fairfax (daughter to Lady Bracknell)
  • Miss Prism (governess to Cecily)
  • Dr. Chasuble (a minister who lives near John’s country house)
  • Lane (butler to Algernon)
  • Merriman (butler to John)


The comedy has been successful even when performed in translation. The title being translatable only to a few languages—it relies on "Ernest" and "earnest" being homophones in English—it is then usually staged under the title Bunbury, referring to deceit in general.

In some languages, the literal title is maintained, but loses its character as a pun. In Norway it is staged as Hvem er Ernest?, which means "Who is Ernest?" In Spanish-speaking countries, the title is translated as La importancia de llamarse Ernesto (The Importance of Being Named Ernest).

Several languages—German, Dutch, French, Hungarian, Czech—offer equivalent puns. In Germany the play and the 2002 movie are called Ernst sein ist alles ("Being Earnest is all"), keeping precisely the original pun (Ernst being both a first name and a German word for being serious). In Dutch it has been translated as Het belang van Ernst, in which the pun is also fully functional. In French, the play is known as De l'importance d'être Constant, Constant being both a mildly uncommon first name and the quality of steadfastness; the pun is preserved but with a slightly different meaning. The same approach has been used in Hungarian: the title has been translated as Szilárdnak kell lenni ("One Must Be Steadfast"), Szilárd being also an uncommon first name meaning "steadfast". In Czech, the title is translated as Jak je důležité míti Filipa ("The Importance of Having Phillip"), which is an idiom for being clever, and Filip is a quite common name.

Four-act version

When Wilde handed his final draft of the play over to theatrical impresario George Alexander it was complete in four acts. The actor manager of the St. James' Theatre soon began a reworking of the play. Whether to provide space for a 'warmer' or a musical interlude, as was often the bill, it is not entirely clear. However, Wilde agreed to the cuts and various elements of the second and third acts were combined. The "missing" extra act, coming between the current second and third, was heavily cut. The greatest impact was the loss of the character Mr Gribsby, a solicitor, who turns up from London to arrest the profligate "Ernest" (John) for his unpaid dining bills. Algernon - who is going by the name "Ernest" at this point - is about to be led away to Holloway Jail unless he settles his accounts immediately. The four-act version was first played on the radio in a BBC production and is still sometimes performed. The 2002 film includes the Gribsby scene from the missing act.

Possible in-jokes

Wilde's use of the name Ernest may possibly be an in-joke. John Gambril Nicholson in his poem "Of Boy's Names" (Love in Earnest: Sonnets, Ballades, and Lyrics (1892)) contains the lines: " Though Frank may ring like silver bell, And Cecil softer music claim, They cannot work the miracle, –'Tis Ernest sets my heart a-flame." The poem was promoted by John Addington Symonds and Nicholson and Wilde contributed pieces to the same issue of The Chameleon magazine. See D'arch Smith, Timothy: Love In Earnest: Some Notes on the Lives and Writings of English "Uranian" Poets from 1889 to 1930 (1970). Theo Aronson has suggested that the word "earnest" became a code-word for homosexual, as in: "Is he earnest?", in the same way that "Is he so?" and "Is he musical?" were also employed. See Aronson, Theo: Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld (1994).

The words bunbury and bunburying, which are used to imply double lives and as excuses for absences are, according to a letter from Aleister Crowley to Sir Bruce Lockhart, an in-joke conjunction that came about after Wilde boarded a train at Banbury on which he met a schoolboy. They got into conversation and subsequently arranged to meet again at Sunbury. See D'arch Smith, Timothy: Bunbury - Two Notes on Oscar Wilde (1998).

While these words may have been such mild in-jokes, Sir Donald Sinden, who had met two of the play's original participants in the 1940s: Irene Vanbrugh, the first Gwendolen; Allan Aynesworth, the first Algy; as well as Lord Alfred Douglas, wrote to The Times to dispute that the words held any sexual connotations, or that 'Cecily' was a synonym for a rentboy: "Although they had ample opportunity, at no time did any of them even hint that Earnest was a synonym for homosexual, or that Bunburying may have implied homosexual sex. The first time I heard it mentioned was in the 1980s and I immediately consulted Sir John Gielgud whose own performance of John Worthing in the same play was legendary and whose knowledge of theatrical lore was encyclopaedic. He replied in his ringing tones: "No-No! Nonsense, absolute nonsense: I would have known." (The Times, 2 February 2001).


  • Lady Bracknell's phrase A handbag? has been claimed to be the single quotation in English drama that has given rise to the most varied readings, ranging from incredulous through scandalized to just plain baffled. There is scarcely an actress who has not tried to put her own personal stamp on it, but the most famous is that of Edith Evans in Anthony Asquith's film, who delivered the line loudly in a mixture of horror, incredulity and condescension.
  • The Marquess of Queensberry, father of Wilde's male lover Lord Alfred Douglas, attempted to enter the theatre on the play's opening night to publicly expose Oscar Wilde's homosexuality, but Wilde was tipped in advance and Queensberry was refused a ticket. Due to Wilde's personal troubles, however, the play was closed after only 83 performances, despite its success.
  • The name 'Miss Prism' is a pun on 'misprision', the word for concealing an error from authority.
  • When Jack tells Lady Bracknell that Cecily has a fortune of 'about a hundred and thirty thousand pounds' that is roughly the equivalent of £10,000,000 or US$18,000,000 in 2005.
  • At the time the play was written Victoria Station in London was actually two adjacent terminal stations sharing the same name. To the east was the terminal of the decidedly ramshackle London, Chatham and Dover Railway and to the west, the much more fashionable London, Brighton and South Coast Railway - the Brighton Line. Although the two stations shared a dividing wall, there was no interconnection: it was necessary to walk out into the street to pass from one station to the other. Jack explains that he was found in a hand bag in the cloakroom at Victoria Station and tries to mitigate the circumstance by assuring Lady Bracknell that it was the more socially acceptable "Brighton line."

Film versions

  • The 1952 film of the play was directed by Anthony Asquith and stars Michael Denison (Algernon), Michael Redgrave (John), Dame Edith Evans (Lady Bracknell), Dorothy Tutin (Cecily), Joan Greenwood (Gwendolen), and Margaret Rutherford (Miss Prism).
  • The 1992 remake was directed by Kurt Baker.
  • The 2002 remake stars Colin Firth (John), Rupert Everett (Algy), Dame Judi Dench (Lady Bracknell), Reese Witherspoon (Cecily), Frances O'Connor (Gwendolen), Anna Massey (Miss Prism), and Tom Wilkinson (Dr. Chasuble) and was directed by Oliver Parker.

External links

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
The Importance of Being Earnest
  • The Importance of Being Earnest on Project Gutenberg
  • The full script
  • Criterion Collection essay by Charles Dennis
Retrieved from ""