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Please analyze the following quotation from The Importance of Being Earnest: "Lord...

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rozh | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted June 3, 2013 at 10:40 PM via web

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Please analyze the following quotation from The Importance of Being Earnest:

"Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that was the way in which you wasted your time and money" Lady Bracknell to Algernon regarding his pending christening. Act3

 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 3, 2013 at 11:40 PM (Answer #1)

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The complete expression as told by Lady Bracknell upon hearing Dr. Chasuble announce the impending christening of Jack and Algernon is:

The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon, I forbid you to be baptized. I will not hear of such excesses. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money.

This phrase basically re-emphasizes Lady Bracknell's primary interest in life, which is money, position, and society talk. As we know, Algernon and Jack are the sons of Lady Bracknell's sister which she describes as "the poor Mrs. Moncrieff".  As "Lady Bracknell", Augusta has all the access to Lord Bracknell's money and, undoubtedly, upon the death of Mrs. Moncrieff he complied with the customary tradition of taking Algernon, as Lady Bracknell's surviving nephew, under his protection. Unfortunately, Algernon is far from the grateful nephew and, instead, enjoys his upper-class status to run bills, play the piano, and look fashionable.

In Wilde's style, however, the paradoxical nature of Lady Bracknell's speech makes a solemn religious ceremony into something ironically "irreligious" and financially-based. Yet, in a comical addition, Lady Bracknell adds becoming christened as yet another one of Algernon's charades.

Therefore, Lady Bracknell's expression actually means to tell Algernon that Lord Bracknell already knows about Algernon's careless and irresponsible ways. If Algernon proceeds to become christened he would be a) having to attach himself to Church which is universally known for financial double standards, b) waste yet more of his own time in nonsense and, c) he would still be wasting Lord Bracknell's money if he continues to engage in worthless tasks that amount to nothing.

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