The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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

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Blaze Bergstrom eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The title relates to two aspects of the play: the last line and the overall conceit. At the very end, when all four characters are sorted out into two couples, Jack says he has learned “the vital importance of being earnest.” Of course, he has done no such thing. If anything, he has learned that lying pays off. In general, however, Jack is not much worse than the other characters in that regard. Wilde’s main point is to ridicule the conventions of society and point out the pervasiveness of hypocrisy.

While Jack uses the pseudonym "Ernest" to hide his shenanigans, other characters also engage in duplicity. Algernon appropriates the Ernest identity when it suits him, compounding his own deceptive practice of employing an alter ego to go carousing in London. Although the young men improve their behavior somewhat, when they decide it is time to marry, their sincerity remains in doubt. When it...

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amberkelly2 | Student

Explore the significance of the title The Importance of Being Earnest to the comedy of the play.