The Importance of Being Earnest Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

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Please analyze the following quotation from The Importance of Being Earnest: "I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone." (act 1)

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Lady Bracknell is interviewing Jack to see if he is worthy of marrying her daughter. Much of the comedy of the scene comes from quotes like this one. Lady Bracknell asks questions that feel like a trap, and what we would expect as a suitable answer is not the answer Lady Bracknell is looking for. For example, she asks Jack if he knows everything or if he knows nothing. Jack claims "I know nothing," which is comedic, and we would expect a mother to want a smart man for her daughter. However, Wilde subverts our expectations when Lady Bracknell responds "I am pleased to hear it." She goes on to say:

I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor...

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