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Book recommedation and review: The Importance of Being Earnest, a play by Oscar Wilde

Tonight I'll be reviewing one of Oscar Wilde's plays. Its full title is The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Play For Serious People.  It was first performed on 14th of Februrary 1895 at Saint James Theatre in London. The play as famous for its satire of the Victorian society as it is by its clever word play. It was always my opinion that Wilde deserves his praises; he really is an exceptional playwright. He has a natural instinct for building drama. I regret not ever having had the chance to see any of his works on stage (and this one in particular) but all of her plays are so well adapted to the classical reading experiences, that I can’t say that I mind too much. I believe his plays are as suitable to be read as they are to be performed on the stage. Some writers are good either at one or the other, their plays are either meant to be seen or to read, but Wilde’s plays seem to work perfectly both ways. 

“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. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.” 

This is a play about mistaken identities, love, courting, secret engagements, lies and much more. It is astonishing the ease with which Wilde makes her characters come to life. Tell me, did you catch yourself laughing while you were reading this one? I bet you did! I bet you were at least chuckling if not laughing out laugh. A bit removed from our present reality in space and time, this play manages to retain most (if not all) of its original spice, humour and charm….and its humour is truly brilliant.

“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless."
"Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."
"I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.” 

It is amazing how readable this highly intelligent and subtle yet wildly humorous satire on Victorian life really is. The characters are perfectly developed and certainly very approachable. Moreover, somehow these characters manage to be both ridiculous and likeable. The plot is ingenious. All the plot twist won’t let you get bored for a second. They might send your head spinning a bit but they’re surely entertaining. The story itself feels absolutely convincing even when things get a bit absurd. The ending is simply superb.

No wonder this play is still widely performed. The Importance Of Being Earnest is probably one of the most quoted plays of all times. I’m not one bit surprised that it managed to retain its popularity. Wilde has managed to create something that is, simultaneously, wonderfully entertaining and surprisingly profound, and he deserves to be admired for such a rare accomplishment.


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