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VARIOUS TEXTS: FROM OSCAR WILDE'S THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Jack: This ghastly state of things is what you call Bunburying, I suppose?
Algernon: Yes, and a perfectly Bunbury it is. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life.
Jack: Well, you have no right whatsoever to Bunbury here.
Algernon: That is absurd. One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. Every serious Bunburyist knows that.
Jack: Serious Bunburyist? Good heavens!
Algernon: Well, one must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life. I happen to be serious about Bunburying. What on earth you are serious about I haven't got the remotest idea. About everything, I should fancy. You have such an absolutely trivial nature.
Jack: Well, the only small satisfaction I have in the whole of this wretched business is that your friend Bunbury is quite exploded. You won't be able to run down to the country quite so often as you used to, dear Algy. And a very good thing, too.
Algernon: Your brother is a little off colour, isn't he, dear Jack? You won't be able to disappear to London quite so frequently as your wicked custom was. And not a bad thing either.
Jack: As for your conduct towards Miss Cardew, I must say that your taking in a sweet, simple, innocent girl like that is quite inexcusable. To say nothing of the fact that she is my ward.
Algernon: I can see no possible defence at all for your deceiving a brilliant, clever, thoroughly experienced young lady like Miss Fairfax. To say nothing of the fact that she is my cousin.
Jack: I wanted to be engaged to Gwendolen. That is all, I love her.
Algernon: Well, I simply wanted to be engaged to Cecily. I adore her.
Jack: There is certainly no chance of your marrying Miss Cardew.
Algernon: I don't think there is much likelihood, Jack, of you and Miss Fairfax being united.
Jack: Well, that is no business of yours.
Algernon: If it was my business, I wouldn't talk about it. (Begins to eat muffins)). It is very vulgar to talk about one's business. Only people like stockbrokers do that, and then merely at dinner parties.
Jack: How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can't make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.
Algernon: Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.
Jack: I say it's perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.
Algernon: When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as anyone who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink.At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins. (Rising).
Jack: (rising) Well, there is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. (Takes muffins from Algernon)
Algernon: (offering tea-cake): I wish you would have tea-cake instead. I don't like tea-cake.
Jack: Good heavens! I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden.
Algernon: But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins.
Jack: I said it was perfectly heartless of you, under the circumstances. That is a very different thing.
Algernon: That may be. But the muffins are the same. (He seizes the muffin-dish from Jack.)

Assignments:
1. Summarize this dialogue between Jack and Algernon in your own words.
2. Point out and comment on all stylistic and linguistic devices in this dialogue which are typical of this play.
3. Events and circumstances in this play are too incredible as to be taken seriously, even though some of them suggest what the English upper classes at the end of 19th century were really like.
4. What do Algernon and Jack, Gwendolen and Cecily, and Dr. Chasuble and Miss Prism have in common?


amazon.de The Importance of Being Earnest
by
Oscar Wilde
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