The Importance of Being Earnest Ep10 – The real Ernest is discovered: Journey back to Victorian London with us for the final episode of The Importance of Being Earnest, based on the original comedy by Oscar Wilde.
Everyone is gathered at Jack’s house in the country. Jack is still arguing with Lady Bracknell, but, as soon as Miss Prism arrives, everything changes. It’s time to find out who the real Ernest is…
Lady Bracknell is visiting Jack’s house in the country. She won’t allow Jack to marry Gwendolen, and Jack, who is Cecily’s guardian, won’t allow Cecily to marry Algernon.
Come here, dear child. How old are you?
Well, you’ll soon be able to decide yourself who to marry.
Excuse me, Lady Bracknell, but Miss Cardew doesn’t come of age until she is 35, only then can she marry who she likes.
Oh, that’s not a problem. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women who have remained 35 for years. Lady Dumbleton, for example, she’s been 35 ever since she turned 40, a long time ago.
But I can’t wait that long. I hate waiting even five minutes for someone. Waiting, even to be married, is just not possible.
Well, what shall we do, Cecily?
I don’t know, Algernon.
My dear Mr Worthing, as Miss Cardew says she cannot wait till she is 35 – which seems to indicate she is a little impatient – could you change your mind?
My dear Lady Bracknell, the moment you agree to my marriage with Gwendolen, I will happily allow your nephew to become engaged to Cecily.
That is impossible. Look at the time! Gwendolen, dear, we’ve already missed five trains.
But they’ll miss the next one, too, because Reverend Chasuble arrives to announce that everything is ready for the christenings.
Christenings, sir! Isn’t that a little premature?
Both these gentlemen have said they want to be christened this afternoon.
At their age? That’s ridiculous! Algernon, Lord Bracknell would be very unhappy if he knew this was how you wasted your time and money.
So, no christenings this afternoon?
It would be no use to either of us, Reverend Chasuble, at the moment.
Well, I’ll return to the church straight away. It seems Miss Prism has been waiting there for me for an hour and a half.
Miss Prism! Did you say Miss Prism?
Yes, Lady Bracknell. I’m going to see her now.
Wait a moment. Is this Miss Prism an unattractive woman, connected with education?
She’s very well educated indeed.
It’s obviously the same person. And what position does she have in your house?
Miss Prism, Lady Bracknell, is Miss Cardew’s governess.
I must see her at once.
Well, she’s here now! Look, she’s coming up the garden path.
Miss Prism arrives. When she sees Lady Bracknell, she goes white.
Prism! Come here! Where is that baby? Twenty-eight years ago, Prism, you left my house with a pram in which a male baby was sleeping. You never came back. The police found the pram.It contained a novelbut no baby! Prism! What happened to that baby?
Lady Bracknell, I really don’t know. I wish I did. This is what happened. I took the baby out in its pram as usual. I also took with me a large, old handbag in which I was intending to put the novel that I had written. In a moment when I wasn’t thinking, I put the novel in the pram, and placed the baby in the bag.
But where did you put the bag?
I left it in the cloakroom of a railway station in London.
Which railway station?
I must just go to my room.
He rushes off. After several minutes, Jack returns carrying a black leather bag.
Is this the bag, Miss Prism?
Yes, here are my initials. I’m so pleased to get it back so unexpectedly. It has been very inconvenient not to have it all these years.
Miss Prism, it’s not just the bag that has been given back to you. I was the baby in it.
Mr Worthing, there is some mistake! Lady Bracknell can tell you who you really are.
Lady Bracknell, I hate to be inquisitive, but could you tell me who I am?
I’m afraid you are the son of my poor sister, Mrs Moncrieff. You are Algernon’s elder brother.
Algy’s elder brother! Then I do have a brother. I always said I had a brother! Algy, you’ll have to treat me with more respect in future. You have never behaved like a brother to me.
I did my best.
My darling! But what is your christian name, now that you have become someone else?
Good heavens! I had forgotten about that. Lady Bracknell, when Miss Prism left me in the bag, had I been christened already?
Your parents gave you everything, including a christening.
Well, what name was I given?
You were the eldest son, so you were given your father’s name.
Yes, but what was his name?
I cannot remember the General’s full name.
Algy! Can’t you remember what our father’s name was?
My dear fellow, I was one when he died.
His name would appear in the army lists, wouldn’t it, Lady Bracknell?
I have the lists of the last 40 years here.
He rushes to the bookcase and pulls the books out.
Generals… Mallam, Migsby, Moncrieff! General 1869, his full name was… Jack Ernest! … I always told you, Gwendolen, my name was Ernest, didn’t I? Well, it is Ernest after all.
Ernest! My own Ernest! I felt from the beginning that you could have no other name!
Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to suddenly find out that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?
I can. For I’m sure you will change.
And Jack embraces Gwendolen. Algernon does the same with Cecily. Even Reverend Chasuble embraces someone – Miss Prism, much to her delight.
Gwendolen! At last!
My nephew, you are showing a lack of seriousness.
No, it’s the opposite, Lady Bracknell. I’ve now realised for the first time in my life the extreme Importance of Being Earnest.
someone who is legally responsible for someone else such as a child whose parents cannot look after them (perhaps because they have died)
comes of age
when a person becomes adult by law
a religious ceremony in the Christian Church during which a baby is given a name and becomes a member of the Christian Church
a woman who in the past lived with a family and taught the children
place in a theatre, restaurant and previously in railway stations, where you can leave coats, bags and other small items
the first letters of a person’s names
curious, asking lots of questions
something that is very nice to have but is not necessary
holds someone in your arms to show you love them
serious and determined
The Importance of Being Earnest Ep10: The real Ernest is discovered (transcript video)
BBC Short Dramas – The Importance of Being Earnest
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- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep10
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