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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest


by Oscar Wilde

Analysis: Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Comedy

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Comedy

Shadow of Confusion

I’m Ernest! No, I’m Ernest!

Both Jack and Algernon impersonate a nonexistent but notoriously wicked man named Ernest for the sole purpose of meeting the women they love. It helps that Gwendolen and Cecily happen to love that name. But their romantic worlds come crashing down when the girls realize they’re both engaged to Ernest Worthing.

Nightmarish Tangle

Nobody is E(a)rnest.

Caught between the furious women and a hard place, the men confess the truth. There is no Ernest. Gwendolen and Cecily leave them for having non-musical names like Jack and Algernon.

Everything Comes to Light

I really am Ernest!

Gwendolen, Cecily, and Lady Bracknell forgive the men when: 1) they confess they lied to be with their beloveds, and 2) they all discover Miss Prism made a huge mistake involving a baby stroller, a book, and a handbag. Jack is not only a real aristocrat and Algernon’s brother, but also named Ernest after his father. Do we hear wedding bells?

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