How do the demands and requirements of courtship dominate Cecily's and Gwendolyn's attentions, and interactions with others?   

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gwendolyn and Cecily have a very weak foundation when it comes to social skills. From what we can infer in the play, Lady Bracknell tries her best to keep Gwendolen under her watch. Similarly, Jack has to be alert of anything that happens to Cecily because he is her guardian and he is directly responsible for her upbringing.

This shows that both ladies have a problem with exposure, and retreat to their world of novels, fantasies, and ideas as their foundations for reality.

Their expectations are simple: That the man they love is named Ernest. Each of them, however, expects her own Ernest to have certain attributes:

He must be charming, daring, sacrifice himself for the love of the woman he loves, and they must have an air of mischief with an aura of kindness that gives them, as Gwendolen says, "vibrations."

Because of this fixation, they both keep diaries with fictional accounts of their life which, in turn, feed their need for fantasy. They overexagerate their language and mannerisms, and expectations of what is to be their future romantic life. Similarly, this ends up affecting the normal relations with others because they are ultimately living their lives in a fantasy daze.


Read the study guide:
The Importance of Being Earnest

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