The Importance of Being Earnest
Versions of Reality: Romance Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Cecily: [Very politely, rising] I am afraid you must be under some misconception. Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago. [Shows diary.]
Gwendolen: [Examines diary through her lorgnettte carefully] It is certainly very curious, for he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5.30. If you would care to verify the incident, pray do so. [Produces diary of her own.] I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. (II.289-290)
Since both men have indulged their lovers’ fantasies for an "Ernest," we see what started out as pure daydream becomes reality – and a highly disputed one at that. The way in which both women enter their proposal dates into their diaries shows that it is as unreal and whimsical to them as their previous romantic daydreams. Gwendolen puts it best when – referring to her diary – she says "one should always have something sensational to read."
Miss Prism: The plain facts of the case are these. On the morning of the day you [Lady Bracknell] mention, a day that is for ever branded on my memory, I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. I had also with me a somewhat old, but capacious hand bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the basinette, and placed the baby in the hand bag. (III.127)
From what we know about Miss Prism’s three-volume novel (which Lady Bracknell has called a "manuscript…of more than usually revolting sentimentality" (III.126)) and her definition of fiction, we can speculate that it was a romantic daydream or hope of future stardom that caused her "moment of mental abstraction" and led to the disastrous mistake. Does Wilde use Miss Prism’s mistake as a warning?
Chasuble: [Looking up] It has stopped now. [The noise is redoubled.]
Lady Bracknell: I wish he would arrive at some conclusion.
Gwendolen: This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last. (III.141-143)
Gwendolen’s melodramatic love for suspense reveals how she takes her favorite scenes from novels and applies them to real life.