Importance of being Ernest | Teen Ink

Importance of being Ernest

March 19, 2011
By LULU2 SILVER, Petersburg, Illinois
LULU2 SILVER, Petersburg, Illinois
8 articles 7 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
be happy for this moment, this moment is your life

A lovely bride in a white dress walks down the aisle to her awaiting future husband. She has been dreaming about this day ever since she was a little girl, and now it’s finally here. Marriage, in this day and age, is a sacred vow between two people who are deeply in love with each other. However, marriage has now always been viewed that way. When the play, The Importance of Being Earnest was wrote, was more about money and class than true love. They cared about the persons name more so than whom they actually were on the inside, and outside. In The Importance of Being Earnest there are many distinct differences on how marriage was back then, and how it is now.

Today, marriage is more romanticized than it was back then. It’s all about being getting to know someone and falling in love with that person. Then, when the time is right, the two love birds decide if they want to take that next step with that person. Instead of worrying about how much money or property they own, we tend to focus on more on how that person treats us and makes us feel. It is not a decision that is made over night. You don’t meet someone once, and then decide you want to marry them the next day. Once you get to know them, after an extended period of time, then that’s when you decide if marriage is the right way to go. Now-a-days marriage is a serious, binding vow that promises one person to another for the rest of their lives; not a simple puppy love that gets blown out of proportion by two people who think they are actually in love. In The Importance of Being Earnest, not many of theses things that we consider very important about marriage, is even though about.

Marriage in the 1890’s was much more of a business deal than an actual marriage. For example, when Lady Bracknell says to Jack, ‘’I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible. (page15)’’ In this quote, Lady Bracknell is telling Jack that if he does get to know the right people in society, and soon, then he will not be marrying her daughter, Gwendolen. Ranking in society and owning of property was everything when it came to marrying someone. The parents usually questioned the man endlessly until they felt they got the answers that satisfied them. If they did not, however, get the answers they were looking for, then they would simply turn down the man and the daughter would get no say in the matter.

When it comes to marriage, you would think that the daughter would be able to freely select a mate without much word from her parents. But in The Importance of Being Earnest, that was far from true. Lady Bracknell states, ‘’An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . . And now I have a few questions to put to you Mr. Worthing. (page12)’’ In this quote, Lady Bracknell is clearly showing that her daughter has no say in the matter until she has completely evaluated him and his net worth. Although this could be Gwendolen’s true love, he may not make enough money or own enough property to satisfy Lady Bracknell. Therefore, he would be turned away and Gwendolen would just have to accept what Lady Bracknell has chose for her; whether that choice is good or bad. Although Lady Bracknell has complete control over who Gwendolen will marry, Gwendolen still has her own idea of who she wants to marry and why.

Gwendolen has always had one qualification she wanted her future husband to have; he had to be named Ernest. Their money, stance in the community, looks, or personality didn’t have any importance to her at all. On page eleven Gwendolen says, ‘’I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.’’ What Gwendolen is trying to say in this quote is that someone not married to a man with the name of Ernest, cannot be happy because her husbands name isn’t exciting. The irony of her saying that is that she loved Jack, even after she found out his name wasn’t Ernest. She was mad at him for lying, but she quickly forgave him and still wanted to marry him. Although in the end, he did end up being named Ernest, so Gwendolen got her wish after all.

Marriage may not have seemed like it’s changed too much over the years, but by reading The Importance of Being Ernest it’s clear to see that a lot has changed. Parents no longer dictate who their children marry based on their income. Also, marriage is taken quite a bit more seriously than it was back then. And most importantly, people don’t want to marry someone simply because they have an appealing name. Now, everything is about love, honesty, and commitment. So whenever you decide to get married, be thankfully that you don’t have Lady Bracknell as mother!

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