Act I, Part-I Detailed Summary of The Importance of Being Ernest: "The Importance of Being Ernest" by Oscar Wilde




The play opens in the room of Algernon. He appears in the room and asks Lane about how well he plays the music. He seems particularly interested in music:

"As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Later, he inquires Lane, his servant, about the favourite cucumber sandwiches for his aunt, Lady Bracknell and begins to eat the cucumber sandwiches himself. Algernon appears to be fond of conversation and begins the topic of married versus single life, considering marriage an unhappy state. Then Mr. Ernest Worthing whose actual name is Jack comes to meet Algernon. Jack tells him that he has come to the town to enjoy the life because he gets really boring in the country, Shropshire:

"When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people."

Algernon asks Jack pleasing whom tires him in the country and Jack tries to change the topic by asking about the preparation of special cucumber sandwiches. Algernon tells him of the arrival of Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen. The very name of Gwendolen pleases Jack while Algernon warns him:

"but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won't quite approve of your being here. "

Here Jack reveals : "I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her."

Algernon makes fun of Jack for being in love with Gwendolen; he says "I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. "

Algernon forbids Jack from eating the cucumber sandwiches but continues eating himself and Jack points it out to him. Then Algernon offers him bread saying it is meant for Gwendolen but again stops him by saying she is not yet married to him. He then asks Jack about Cecily. Jack denies having known anybody with the name of Cecily: "I don't know any one of the name of Cecily". Algernon asks Lane to bring the cigarette case left by Jack. While Algernon inspects the case, Jack asks him it is indecent to look into one's personal things but it does not matter to Algernon because:

"Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."

Algernon tells him that the case is gifted to somebody named Jack by Cecily. Upon this, Jack says that it is a gift from his aunt Cecily while Algernon makes fun of him by reading from the case: "From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack. " This embarrasses Jack a little. He seeks explanation about the name Jack as mentioned on the case. Here Jack is forced to reveal his double identity:

"Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country".





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