The Importance of Being Earnest
How we cite our quotes:
Algernon: I hope, Cecily, I shall not offend you if I state quite frankly and openly that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection. (II.195)
Algernon bases his declaration of love for Cecily on her looks. This reiterates the idea that a man’s love for a woman can be based initially on her physical beauty.
Algernon: Well, my own dear, sweet, loving little darling, I really can't see why you should object to the name of Algernon. It is not at all a bad name. In fact, it is rather an aristocratic name. Half of the chaps who get into the Bankruptcy Court are called Algernon. But seriously, Cecily . . . [Moving to her] . . . if my name was Algy, couldn't you love me?
Cecily: [Rising] I might respect you, Ernest, I might admire your character, but I fear that I should not be able to give you my undivided attention. (II.238-239)
Cecily, like Gwendolen, bases her love on something silly. Because of this, readers also question Cecily’s love for Algernon, as they do Gwendolen’s love for Jack. We wonder whether or not their love is really just adolescent infatuation.
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. (II.367-368)
Both Jack and Algernon confess that they practiced their deceit and briefly betrayed each other’s trust simply to meet and spend time with the woman they love.