In The Importance of Being Earnest, it is often hard to distinguish Wilde’s notion of romance from that of real love. Readers must settle for a decidedly un-modern definition of love. For example, in Earnest physical beauty – both female and male – can initiate and sustain a love affair. Forgiveness is an ingredient of love as well. Both women forgive the men for their earlier deceptions when they discover the good intentions behind their crimes. It seems that the definition of love in this play is not so much unconditional and self-sacrificing love, but a general attitude of good intentions, admiration, and honest affection.
The concept of love in Earnest is never challenged; each of the four main characters complacently adores his or her lover purely for their looks or their names and never questions each other’s character.
The integrity of each character’s love in Earnest is challenged – both by the standards of high society and by the characters’ own dishonesty – and all of them pass the test.