The Importance of Being Earnest Character Quotes

Key Quotes for Characters 

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Algernon Moncrieff (Ernest)

On Truth:   "The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

"Cecily, I am very much hurt indeed to hear you broke it off.  Particularly when the weather was so charming.”

On Women: “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy.”

"The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.”

"The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to some one else, if she is plain."

On Food: "I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.” 

“At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.”

“You can't possibly ask me to go without having some dinner. It's absurd."

On Fashion: “If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.”

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Jack Worthing (Ernest) according to Algy

Algy on Jack 

What you really are is a Bunburyist. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know.

 You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to every one as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn't Ernest.

 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. 

I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result


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Jack Worthing (Ernest) About Himself

Jack on himself:

"When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.”

Personally, darling, to speak quite candidly, I don't much care about the name of Ernest . . . I don't think the name suits me at all.

"Gwendolen - Cecily - it is very painful for me to be forced to speak the truth. It is the first time in my life that I have ever been reduced to such a painful position, and I am really quite inexperienced in doing anything of the kind."

"I've now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest."

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Cecily Cardew

“I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” 

"Oh! I don't think I would like to catch a sensible man. I shouldn't know what to talk to him about.” 

"I remember only too well that I was forced to write your letters for you.  I wrote always three times a week, and sometimes oftener."

"It would hardly have been a really serious engagement if it hadn't been broken off at least once."

“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.”

JACK: “...they will be calling each other sister. ALGY: Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first.” 

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Gwendolyn Fairfax

“. . . my ideal has always been to love some one of the name of Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence.”

Lady B: You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter--a girl brought up with the utmost care--to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel?

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

"If the poor fellow has been entrapped into any foolish promise I shall consider it my duty to rescue him at once, and with a firm hand."

“You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.” 

“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” 

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Lady Bracknell

On Marriage: "I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing."

 "I am not in favor of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable."

On Society:"Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids.  I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others.  Health is the primary duty of life."..." I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shillyshallying with the question is absurd.” 

 “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.”

“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” 

JACK: Never met such a Gorgon . . . I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair.”

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Miss Prism and Dr. Rev. Chasuble

Miss Prism“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”

"I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment's notice.  As a man sows so let him reap."

"dear Doctor, that by persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation."

Dr. Chasuble"Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism's pupil, I would hang upon her lips.  [Miss Prism glares.]  I spoke metaphorically.--My metaphor was drawn from bees."

"My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion, joyful, or, as in the present case, distressing."

"Sprinkling is all that is necessary, or indeed I think advisable.  Our weather is so changeable."

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