The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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Summarize the denouement of The Importance of Being Earnest.

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By definition the denouement of work of fiction is the resolution of the conflicts and the wrapping up of any other unsettled issues in the story.  In the case of this play, the central conflict has been the fact that both Algernon and Jack have become engaged to two women who both think they are engaged to an Ernest Worthing (who doesn't actually exist in the first place!). Jack/Ernest has the further complication of wanting to marry Gwendolyn, whose mother refuses to allow her daughter to marry someone with no family name of social relations to secure his place in society.  Once both girls realize they have been duped, they both retreat from the men, but they rather quickly forgive the "Ernest" lie and continue on with their romances. 

The final denouement of the story comes from the story of Miss Prism.  Up until the very end of the play,...

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quddoos | Student

The exposition of the play, Act I, introduces the main character, John Worthing-“Ernest” and presents the major conflict: he wants to marry aristocratic Gwendolen but her mother does not approve. Furthermore, she loves him because of his name. Here is the first example of irony. Jack is not really an earnest man, thought he calls himself “Ernest,” and Gwendolen does not really want to marry an earnest man, but a man earnest is name only. 

The rising action of the plot occurs throughout Act II, and is the longest part of the plot. During the rising action Algernon complicates the conflict because he arrives at Jack’s country house and calls himself “Ernest.” This is an impediment because, soon, Gwendolen arrives, and because Algernon has proposed to Cecily as Ernest, Gwendolen is bound to-first, not want to marry Jack because of his duplicity, and second, find out that his name is really not Ernest. 

The climactic moment is when the women confront the men about what they have discovered by talking-they can not both be Ernest Worthing. The men confess and the women retreat 

The women easily forgive the men and the denouement arises with a surprise ending. The ending can be referred to as “Deus ex Machina”(God from machine), which is a highly improbable ending. The chance of Jack really being whom he pretended all along, not to mention Algernon’s brother, not to mention Lady Bracknell and Miss Prism meeting on this fortuitous occasion-are all unlikely occurrences. Also in the resolution, is an excellent example of the understatement, which occurs throughout. To Miss Prism, it does not seem to be a grave occurrence that she switched a baby and her novel, losing both priceless items. 

This play is equipped with many, many epithets-paradoxical, witty phrases. These phrases serve to add to the comedy value of the play. An example if one of these phrases is when Cecily says to Algernon: “Well, I know, of course, how important it is not to keep a business engagement.” (Act II). This is humorous, because to Victorians-as well as to ourselves-it is important to keep business engagements. Yet, this statement is not amusing to the characters in the play.

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