The Importance of Being Earnest Ep2 – The Proposal: Journey back to Victorian London with us in the second episode of The Importance of Being Earnest, based on the original comedy by Oscar Wilde.
Jack and Algernon are two wealthy, young, unmarried men – but Jack plans to change that. He’s in love with Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen. He plans to propose to her when she comes to visit later that day. But first, he has to explain to Algernon why he’s leading a double life.
While you listen to the audio, see how many examples of the passive voice you can spot. Then take a look at the transcript to see them in bold.
Algernon has just asked his good friend Jack to explain why he calls himself Jack in the country but Ernest in London. Jack says it’s because he is the guardian of a girl called Cecily, who lives with him in the country. She looks up to him and he feels he should behave well when he’s with her, so he pretends he has a younger brother called Ernest so that when he comes up to London, he can enjoy himself.
That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth.
So, Ernest, you are a Bunburyist!
What on earth do you mean?
You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, so that you can come to London as often as you like. I have invented a sick friend called Bunbury so that I can go to the country whenever I like. Bunbury is invaluable. For example, if Bunbury didn’t have such bad health, I would have to have dinner with my aunt Lady Bracknell tonight. And I have no intention of doing that.
Well, to begin with, I had dinner with her on Monday – once a week is quite enough to eat with your own relations. Secondly, I know I will be seated next to Mary Farquhar, who always flirts with her own husband – most unpleasant! Besides, I want to have dinner with you and talk about Bunburyism.
I’m not a… Bunburyist. In fact I think I am going to kill my brother Ernest. Cecily is a little too interested in him. And I strongly advise you to do the same with Mr… with your sick friend.
I will not be separated from Bunbury… (a bell rings) Ah! That must be my aunt now. Now, if I keep her busy for ten minutes so you can propose to Gwendolen, will you have dinner with me tonight?
Lady Augusta Bracknell and Miss Gwendolen Fairfax.
A well-dressed, elderly woman and her daughter, a pretty, young lady enter the room.
Good afternoon, dear Algernon. Oh, hello, Mr Worthing.
Now, Algernon… I’d like a nice cup of tea, and one of those cucumber sandwiches you promised me.
Certainly, Aunt Augusta. Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches?
There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir.
I am very sorry, Aunt Augusta.
It doesn’t matter, Algernon. Pour me some tea.
Here you are.
Thank you. Now, Algernon, about tonight – you will be seated next to Mary Farquhar.
I’m afraid, Aunt Augusta, I won’t be able to have dinner with you tonight.
But why not, Algernon?
Well, I have just heard that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. I’ll have to go and see him.
It’s very strange. This Mr Bunbury seems to have curiously bad health. I think it is time that he made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. And I would be very grateful if you could ask Mr Bunbury to please not be ill on Saturday, because I need you to organise my music at my soirée.
I’ll speak to him, Aunt Augusta, and I’m sure he’ll be well by Saturday. But why don’t we go next door to look at the programme of music I’ve prepared.
Thank you, Algernon. It is very thoughtful of you.
Algernon and his aunt go into the music room, leaving Jack and Gwendolen alone.
It has been a lovely day, Miss Fairfax.
Please don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing. Whenever people talk about the weather, I am sure they mean something else. And that makes me nervous.
I do mean something else.
I thought so.
Miss Fairfax, ever since I met you I have admired you…
Yes, I realised that. Actually, I have always been fascinated by you… even before we met.
Yes, I’ve always wanted to love someone called Ernest. That name inspires complete confidence. When Algernon first mentioned that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you.
You really love me, Gwendolen?
But you don’t really mean that you couldn’t love me if my name wasn’t Ernest?
But your name is Ernest.
Yes, I know. But what if it was something else? Do you mean you couldn’t love me then? Personally, I don’t think the name suits me.
It suits you perfectly.
But there are lots of other much nicer names. Jack, for instance, is a charming name.
Jack? Oh, no, Jack does not have the same sound at all. It’s not exciting. The only really safe name is Ernest.
Gwendolen, I must get christened at once – I mean, we must get married at once.
Married, Mr Worthing?
Well… surely. You know that I love you, and you led me to believe, Miss Fairfax, that you felt the same.
I adore you. But you haven’t proposed to me yet. Nothing has been said at all about marriage.
Well… may I propose to you now?
And so Jack kneels down and asks Gwendolen to marry him. She accepts and Jack is still on his knees when Lady Bracknell returns.
Mr Worthing! Do get up!
Mamma! Please leave us. Mr Worthing has not quite finished yet.
Finished what, may I ask?
I am engaged to Mr Worthing, mamma.
Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged, I, or your father will tell you. A young girl should be surprised by an engagement, pleasantly or unpleasantly. It is not something that she is allowed to arrange for herself… And now I would like to ask you a few questions, Mr Worthing. Gwendolen, can you wait for me below in the carriage.
someone who is legally responsible for someone else, such as a child whose parents cannot look after them (perhaps because they have died)
an invented word meaning someone who invents a fictitious person (either themselves or someone else)
a person who is ill or disabled and is unable to look after themself
extremely useful or valuable
to behave towards someone as if you are romantically or sexually interested in them
a small party in someone’s house, usually with music
very interested or attracted
makes someone enthusiastic about something
certain because of fate
with great feeling or enthusiasm
named in a ceremony that usually takes place in a church
in a position with one or both knees on the floor
The Importance of Being Earnest Ep2: The Proposal (transcript video)
BBC Short Dramas – The Importance of Being Earnest
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep1
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep2
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep3
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep4
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep5
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep6
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep7
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep8
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep9
- BBC Short Dramas: The Importance of Being Earnest Ep10
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