Act I of The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde Read-Along, organize by Wallace.
It’s not often that my underlining pen is used this often. From the first few moments this play has been a delight and on every other sentence I’m stumbling into one of Wilde’s immortal maxims – “More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.”
I suspect that for the single purpose of showing off his wit, Wilde creates a completely unrealistic plot and characters that talk like no normal person would, but contrary to what would usually happen, I’m ok with his smart-assery. He’s very clever, he’s funny, he’s cheeky, he wants to entertain me, and I’m more than willing to be thus entertained.
Although I loved the mischievous Algernon (this is only the second time in my life I’ve seen the name used, the first being in Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon), I’m not so sure about Jack. While Algernon’s Mr. Bunbury sounds like a bit of naughty fun, Jack’s secret is more sinister. He’s creating an imaginary brother to be able to be morally lax in town while being the epitaph of rectitude in the country. It’s a bit creepy, if you really think about it. At least Algernon is openly mischievous!
My favorite part in the Act was how cleverly Algernon trapped Jack into disclosing the truth behind the cigarette case. Slowly and surely. Poor Jack never had a chance. Did you notice that by reading the play you get a bit of spoilers because although Jack is introduced as Ernest, the text still says “Jack:“?
“The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!” – Wilde making a bit of fun of himself and his ludicrous plot.
“The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.”
“My dear Algy, you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn’t a dentist. It produces false impression.“