The Importance of Being Earnest | Study Guide

Oscar Wilde

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Course Hero, "The Importance of Being Earnest Study Guide," December 2, 2016, accessed September 24, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Importance-of-Being-Earnest/.

The Importance of Being Earnest | Section Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • 1890s

    Jack reveals to Algernon he has two identities: Jack in the country and Ernest in town.

    Act 1, Section 2
  • Minutes later

    Jack proposes to Gwendolen; her mother, Lady Bracknell, blocks the couple because Jack is an orphan.

    Act 1, Section 3
  • One day later

    Algernon pretends to be Ernest to court Cecily.

    Act 2, Section 2
  • Minutes later

    Jack announces his (imaginary) brother Ernest is dead.

    Act 2, Section 3
  • Later that day

    Algernon proposes to Cecily.

    Act 2, Section 3
  • Minutes later

    Jack must reconcile with Algernon, pretending to be Ernest.

    Act 2, Section 4
  • Minutes later

    Cecily and Gwendolen discover they are both engaged to Ernest Worthing and get angry.

    Act 2, Section 5
  • Later that day

    The lovers reconcile, but the women insist on the men being named Ernest.

    Act 3, Section 1
  • Minutes later

    Lady Bracknell reveals Miss Prism to be guilty of losing Lady Bracknell's infant nephew decades ago.

    Act 3, Section 2
  • Minutes later

    Jack learns he was the abandoned baby and is named Ernest.

    Act 3, Section 3

Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Act 1, Section 1 Lane is setting up for tea while Algernon Moncrieff plays the piano in the next room. Algernon finishes and enters the m... Read More
Act 1, Section 2 As Algernon and Ernest talk, they eat the food Lane had set out. When Ernest asks who is coming to tea, Algernon says th... Read More
Act 1, Section 3 Lane ushers in Lady Bracknell, who is Algernon's Aunt Augusta, and Gwendolen, his cousin. Lady Bracknell mentions a frie... Read More
Act 2, Section 1 When Act 2 opens at the Manor House, Jack's country estate, Miss Prism tries to get Cecily Cardew to study her German. C... Read More
Act 2, Section 2 Merriman announces Mr. Ernest Worthing has arrived. Algernon enters, pretending to be Jack's brother Ernest. He and Ceci... Read More
Act 2, Section 3 Miss Prism and Dr. Chasuble return, talking about marriage. Miss Prism argues unmarried men need to realize they present... Read More
Act 2, Section 4 Merriman enters, announcing he has put away Algernon's (Ernest's) luggage. Algernon says he'll be staying for a week. Ja... Read More
Act 2, Section 5 Cecily is alone for only a moment before Merriman announces Miss Fairfax's arrival. Gwendolen enters, and the two women ... Read More
Act 3, Section 1 After Gwendolen and Cecily give Jack and Algernon the silent treatment, they ask the men why they assumed the false iden... Read More
Act 3, Section 2 Lady Bracknell returns, disrupting this happy state of affairs. She tells Gwendolen that she and Jack are not engaged. S... Read More
Act 3, Section 3 Dr. Chasuble enters, ready to christen Jack and Algernon. Lady Bracknell scorns the idea. Dr. Chasuble is sorry to hear ... Read More
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