Oscar Wilde Revision @ Shmoop


IntroSummaryThemesQuotesCharactersAnalysisQuestionsBest of the WebWrite Essay



The Importance of Being Earnest


Literary Devices in The Importance of Being Earnest

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The two imaginary people created by Jack and Algernon might symbolize the empty promises or deceit of the Victorian era. Not only is the character Ernest anything but earnest for the majority of th…


Usually, having two differing locales – like the lavish London of the nineteenth century and an unspoiled countryside estate – would show readers a marked contrast. It usually goes like…

Narrator Point of View

Though all works of literature present the author’s point of view, they don’t all have a narrator or a narrative voice that ties together and presents the story. This particular piece o…


In the most basic sense, The Importance of Being Earnest is a drama because it’s a play. It’s also a comedy, not only in the modern laugh-out-loud way, but also in the classical sense, in tha…


It seems that Wilde’s main point in The Importance of Being Earnest is to criticize Victorian society by showing how shallow and hypocritical is it. What do aristocrats do all day? Play the p…

Writing Style

Oscar Wilde is an incredibly funny and witty writer. His humor in The Importance of Being Earnest relies on creating absurd situations and characters whose lack of insight causes them to respond to…

What’s Up With the Title?

The genius of this title depends on a pun between the adjective “earnest,” meaning honest or sincere and the first name, “Ernest.” So let’s focus on the first definition. Wait, we’ve al…

What’s Up With the Ending?

The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy. It ends happily, resolving any tensions in such a way that all characters also get what they desire. This means that all secret identities are revealed…

Plot Analysis

Hello, my name is Ernest. (Act I, lines 1-78)For the young Victorian man, the double life is the good life. Jack and Algernon both have secret identities and activities. Up until now, they have bot…

Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Comedy

I’m Ernest! No, I’m Ernest!Both Jack and Algernon impersonate a nonexistent but notoriously wicked man named Ernest for the sole purpose of meeting the women they love. It helps that Gw…

Three Act Plot Analysis

Jack’s second identity is revealed to fellow Bunburyist, Algernon. Jack’s name isn’t really Ernest. But Jack’s lack of parents makes it impossible for him to marry his beloved, Gw…

Steaminess Rating

There’s no actual sex in The Importance of Being Earnest. But the whole reason we have a plot is because of differing opinions on two corollaries of sex – love and marriage. We’re…


Aegeria (II.29) – a Roman mythological water nymph known for giving wisdomMudie (II.12) of Mudie’s Lending Library, which was largely responsible for the rise of the Victorian three-vol…

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