The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain The Significance Of The Full Title Of The Play The Importance Of Being Earnest

What is the meaning of the title The Importance of Being Earnest?

Expert Answers info

Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write6,546 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

In the end, with Jack's famous last line, "Now I know the vital importance of being earnest," he seems to imply that one only needs to be earnest when it actually suits one's purposes.  Jack was only accidentally honest.  If he had known his true parentage, this would still not have satisfied his need to escape his gentleman's life and behave illicitly from time to time.  Look at his brother, Algernon: he had to invent a permanent invalid named Bunbury just so he would have an excuse to get out of family engagements.  Therefore, Jack would likely still have been dishonest.

Furthermore, if Jack had known his true lineage, then he never would have become Cecily Cardew's ward.  If he had not invented a fictitious brother, Algernon could not have pretended to be him, and this would have left Jack without his love.  It is the end that justifies the means in this play, and when all the lies happen to add up to a truth, the ending results in happiness for everyone.  However, almost

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 619 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write5,648 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and Business

check Approved by eNotes Editorial