Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

The Importance of Being Earnest (intentional mis-spelling)

I was thinking the last post I made was based on Friday the 13th (of December 2013) which of course is related to an end time period (of the week). So what about Monday the 13th (today)? The opposite, at the beginning of the so-called week? Then I was reminded of what today signified for many people. It was the establishment implemented New Years Day according to the Julian calender (in some places it’s the 14th).

January 13th is the old New Years date before the Gregorian calender was accepted and normalized.

Ha ha so today is significant -__o though I would have preferred better.

Master manipulator, dream maker, parasite played by David Bowie whose bday it also happens to be in ‘real life’.

New Years Resolutions

I never make any because it’s not my style. Plus things like starting a diet in the middle of Winter is hard on the body and mindset; using an arbitrary date according to a calender not based on nature (and we are affected with it) unsurprisingly produces a lot of false hopes and attempts (and I don’t see hope as a good thing in most cases, more of a stalling device and way to meter out feelings of upset e.g. disappointment, despair into more bearable chunks). That’s not to say people don’t succeed if they have will power and enjoy their resolutions but it’s not a helpful time period in general.

I find that making goals continuously helps me better whilst trying not to fall into patterns of detrimental behaviours and in regard to culturally common festive season weight gain fears, just by my lifestyle I lost weight during the last two ‘festive seasons’/years. (It is possible to consume more than usual even a lot for a week and maintain or lose weight.) So did I make any resolutions on Jan 1st or today? Nah. That said today is also Make Your Dream Come True Day according to the more ‘fun’/card industry calender – coincedence? The latter title for today appeals to my whimsical side a bit though.

Tool (O’Toole pun) or Fool – better to be a clever fool imo but not with false dreams.

The Importance of Being Ernest

So back to the virtue of earnestness amongst those trying to simply be/look Ernest and benefit/feel good about it. As a ode to the writer of the title here is my review of that ironical play in which folk stress about their image, apparently valid/having the ‘right’ heritage and fitting in as people and characters in the play called life or more specifically life in society. Then ultimately having to be ‘cleansed’ as new/reborn from the sin of being birthed/born especially of woman, and as adults cleansed from the sin of living (the way they have anyway) and their pasts. Metamorphosis, wannabe phoenix rebirth, illusionists tricks, a quick read by Wilde.

THE AUTHOR AND THE BOOK

The Importance of Being Earnest was a short play written by the classic Victorian satire writer Oscar Wilde, it was to become one of his most famous works though initially was subject to a controversial spotlight due to scandal in his personal life. It debuted on Valentine’s Day 1895 and ran for 86 performances but was prematurely closed. Wilde later revised the script meticulously even removing an Act and combining two others, conversely taking him not only a long time but an arduous effort for what resulted in a concise and sharply witty product.

My version of this book was bought in the days of ‘£1 classics’ which were unedited copies of ‘classic’ published works without introductions or further review hence it is basically just the script of the play without any extra frills. It’s a book that I find I can come back to and re-read particularly if I’m feeling a bit sardonic. Even if you’ve never seen one of the films or adaptations or even if you generally prefer to watch plays rather than read them, I believe Wilde’s effort really gave the words and lines vibrancy and every character has a lively persona.

THE PLAY

‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is a fast paced, quaint little comedy that runs through many of the pretensions of the Victorian social elite in regards to marital eligibility in quick succession. All of Wilde’s work deals with morals, ethics and social conventions and this is no exception. However the major difference with this particular piece in contrast to his others is that it borders on the ridiculous in regards to the superficial level it touches upon without any real discussion or critique of social values.

The characters are downright comical and theatrical in nature and all exaggerated in their characteristics. From the carefree John Worthing (Jack) who leads a double life as a jovial bachelor in the city and the grave yet fair uncle to his ward Cecily Cardew to the second lead character Algernon Moncrieff who lives a life of ‘Bunburying’ which is basically cavorting between town and country using the excuse of a sick friend that he is obligated to visit; a sick friend that really doesn’t exist. Due to requests from their lady loves both men are eager to be named Ernest and in a opportune twist of fate that goal is reached but only after much frustration and valuable lesson learning in, as aptly titled, the importance of being earnest in both name and nature.

CHARACTERS AND GENERAL PLOT

The play is split into 3 Acts and involves the following characters.

John Worthing, J.P also known as Ernest (1) – Is a City and a Country fellow, the hedonistic Ernest in the city to his social acquaintances and responsible John (nicknamed Jack) in his other home, the countryside with his family. He tells his family that he has an irresponsible younger brother in the city named Ernest, who he then uses as an excuse to satisfy his need for jaunts to the city.

Cecily Cardew—John’s ward and heiress. A young lady who has led a somewhat sheltered though indulged life in the home of her firm but fair ‘Uncle Jack’; she has a naive, flirty and curious personality.  She becomes the love interest of John/Ernest’s reckless friend Algernon after having been impressed with the romanticised notion of ‘Uncle Ernest’ the Black sheep in the city.

Algernon Moncrieff also known as Ernest (2) – A friend of John Worthing and who is also secretly playing the City and Country game. Upon discovering that John is up to similar antics, he infiltrates his friend’s country home and the heart of Cecily whilst pretending to be her honorary Uncle Ernest.

Gwendolen Fairfax – Algernon’s cousin. She is the love interest of John Worthing and accepts him readily when he proposes, though it seems much of her love for him is in his name ‘Ernest’ and the assumed connotations that has i.e. having a sound social reputation and respectability, which in itself is strange since he’s the opposite of earnest when in the city. She is seen to be very much under the guidance of her mother, until she runs away from home…

Lady Bracknell— Gwendolen’s mother and a stern supporter of class difference or at least marrying within one’s class. She appraises ‘Ernest’ (John) to be a decent enough fellow but lacking the necessary class credentials to marry her daughter. She has a sister whose baby was lost and is perhaps even more careful with her own.

Miss Prism—Cecily’s governess, and also the cause of one of John’s mistaken indentities.

Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D— he does the honours for the couples in the play; marrying and re-naming. He is also the love interest of Miss Prism.

CONCLUSION

It all depends on what you are expecting or what you want if you are to get satisfaction from this play; for example if you desire the tortured soul and in-depth drama/trauma as featured in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ then you are in the wrong place. This book is for amusement purposes only and will bring a chuckle rather than a tear to your eye. In terms of plot there is nothing too trying here only ‘cute coincidences’ and lucky timing with sweet romantic encounters and high-strung attitudes. The play in general makes for quick and light reading very much in the pace and convoluted style of later author PG Wodehouse (best known for ‘Jeeves and Wooster’) or a modern comparison would be the TV sitcom ‘Frasier’ for its droll sense of humour, elitist perspectives and being known as a ‘comedy for intellectuals’.

Overall it’s a tongue in cheek look at ‘birds/chicks’ of the time aka young well to do gentlemen with too much time on their hands, and in this case baptism being used symbolically to necessitate the chameleon nature of the characters from unsuitable to upstanding. I would say it’s less sarcastic or cynical in tone to some of Wilde’s other works and so easier to read quickly enjoying the quips.

Another example of people with all manner of pretensions confusing each other, from a book about a megalomaniac psycho torturer adept at mind games (virtually hypnotism) and subterfuge who was later portrayed as a romantic and tragic hero. I can never forgive the stage and screen adaptations.

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Comments on: "Happy New Years! – Uh, What?" (2)

  1. I love your (obviously) busy mind! Reading your posts are fun and entertaining! I relate to a lot of what you say.

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