[REVIEW] ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ By: Oscar Wilde

This book is actually a stage play, so this review of it will be set up a little bit differently.

Official Synopsis:

There’s no official synopsis of the play, but here is some information from Wikipedia. “The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People’ is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play’s major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Contemporary reviews all praised the play’s humour, though some were cautious about its explicit lack of social messages, while others foresaw the modern consensus that it was the culmination of Wilde’s artistic career so far. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde’s most enduringly popular play.”

Rating: 3/5 stars


The cover of the play is not my favorite thing in the world.  The font for the title is a weird bubble letter typography, and has a shadow beneath the letters.  It feels extra weird because it’s a different font than the name of the playwright, ‘Oscar Wilde’ on the bottom of the cover.  Since Wilde was obsessed with aestheticism, which is “art for art’s sake”, choosing to make the background color a dark gray doesn’t seem to emulate that.  The border design is, I would assume, supposed to look fancy, but really it just doesn’t seem to fit that well with the typography.  Also, the format of the play drove me insane while I was reading it.  I took two playwriting classes in high school, one my junior year and one my senior year.  I’ve written over a dozen plays throughout those two classes and had an original play that I wrote performed at the end of my junior and senior year, so I know a thing or two about how to format them.  It took awhile for me to get into the swing of the plot and the story because it was so awkward and unclear as to who was speaking what line.

As I explained in my book vs. movie post about this play, I had actually seen the movie at the end of my senior year but had not read the play.  There were very few stage directions throughout the entire piece of writing, which would give actors a lot of choices as to their own interpretations of the feelings and expressions of the characters.

The play is divided into three Acts.  The first Act takes place in Algernon’s home, and the second and third Acts take place at Jack’s house in the country.  Oscar Wilde writes in a very clever manner, using a lot of wit.  The banter between the characters (for example, Algernon and Jack) was very entertaining to read, and I enjoyed how fast paced the play is.  When I write plays, I love writing the dialogue between two characters that are arguing or being sarcastic towards each other, so therefore I enjoyed reading this work of Wilde’s.

This play is a comedy, and although I didn’t laugh out loud as much as I expected to, there were definitely many instances where Wilde’s comedic voice shone through.  There’s a lot of irony throughout the play, a lot of it dramatic irony.  As a reader, I tend to enjoy knowing things that are happening and that could happen that the characters have no idea about.

Overall, I liked the play, and might go back to it when I’m stuck on writing dialogue for my own plays.  Wilde seems to have mastered the art of dialogue, which clearly shines through throughout the entire work.



5 thoughts on “[REVIEW] ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ By: Oscar Wilde

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite classics but I never got as into reading plays as I did novels so I haven’t picked this one up yet. I’m not even sure I’ve seen a movie version before. Your posts have definitely piqued my interest though so I am going to check them out soonish!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s