The Importance of Being Earnest Ep3 – Lost and found: Journey back to Victorian London with us for the third episode of The Importance of Being Earnest, based on the original comedy by Oscar Wilde.
Jack has proposed to his darling Gwendolen, and she has accepted. But Gwendolen’s mother, Lady Bracknell, has other ideas. Meanwhile, Algernon has become interested in Jack’s cousin, Cecily.
While you listen to the audio, see how many examples of comparatives and superlatives you can spot. Then take a look at the transcript to see them in bold.
Jack has asked Gwendolen to marry him. She thinks his name is Ernest, her favourite name, and has happily accepted. But her mother, Lady Bracknell, is not pleased about the engagement. She wants to ask Jack some questions about his background and finances.
Now, Mr Worthing, I am quite prepared to add your name to my list of eligible young men for my daughter if you answer my questions in a suitable way… Do you smoke?
Well, yes, I do.
I’m glad to hear it. How old are you?
The best age to be married in my opinion. What is your income?
Between seven and eight thousand a year.
Seven and eight thousand. Do you own a house?
Well, I have a country house with some land.
A country house! How many bedrooms? You have a town house, I hope? A girl like Gwendolen could not be expected to live in the country.
Well, I own a house in Belgrave Square, but I rent it to Lady Bloxham.
Very well. Now to more minor subjects. Are your parents living?
I have lost both my parents.
To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, is unlucky; to lose both looks like carelessness. Who was your father?
I’m afraid I don’t know. The fact is, Lady Bracknell, I said I had lost my parents. It would be more truthful to say that my parents lost me… I was… well, I was found.
The late Mr Cardew, one of the kindest gentlemen I’ve ever met, found me, and gave me the name of Worthing, because he happened to have a ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. Worthing is in Sussex. It’s the most delightful seaside resort…
Where did this kind gentleman find you?
In a handbag.
Yes, Lady Bracknell, I was in a handbag – a rather large, black handbag, with handles to it.
And where did Mr Cardew come across this ordinary handbag?
In the cloakroom at Victoria Station. It was given to him by mistake instead of his own.
The cloakroom at Victoria Station?
Mr Worthing, I have to say I feel rather confused by what you have just told me. To start life in a bag, whether it had handles or not, shows a lack of respect for family life. As for the bag being found in a cloakroom at a railway station, that isn’t the best way to begin a successful life in society today.
May I ask you then what I should do? I would do anything to ensure Gwendolen’s happiness.
I would strongly advise you, Mr Worthing, to acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to try to produce at least one parent.
Well, I don’t see how I can do that. I can produce the bag now. It’s at home. That should be enough for you, surely, Lady Bracknell.
Mr Worthing! You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would allow our only daughter to marry into a cloakroom, and form an alliance with a parcel? Goodbye, Mr Worthing!
How did it go? Oh, didn’t it go well, old boy? Did Gwendolen refuse you?
Oh, as far as Gwendolen is concerned, we are engaged. Her mother, though, is perfectly unbearable. She’s a monster… I beg your pardon, Algy, I shouldn’t talk about your aunt in that way in front of you.
My dear boy, I love people being rude about my relations. It’s the only thing that makes me put up with them.
You don’t think Gwendolen could become like her mother, do you, Algy?
Gwendolen is the most sensible, intellectual girl I know. But all women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. By the way, did you tell Gwendolen about being Ernest in town, and Jack in the country?
My dear fellow, the truth isn’t the sort of thing you tell a nice, sweet girl.
What about your brother? What about Ernest?
Oh, I shall have finished with him by the weekend. I’ll say he died in Paris from a severe cold.
But I thought you said that… Cecily was interested in Ernest? Won’t she be very sad?
Oh, that’s all right. Cecily is not a silly romantic girl, I am glad to say. She has got a good appetite, goes on long walks, and pays little attention to her lessons.
I would like to see Cecily.
I will take very good care you never do. She is very pretty, and she is only just eighteen.
Have you told Gwendolen about Cecily?
Oh! Cecily and Gwendolen are certain to be extremely good friends. Half an hour after they have met, they will be calling each other ‘sister’.
Women only do that when they have called each other a lot of other things first. Now, my dear boy, if we want to get a good table at Willis’s for dinner, we must go. It’s nearly seven.
Just then, Gwendolen comes in and tells Jack that she will always love him, even if they don’t get married. She asks him for his address in the country, and Algernon – listening quietly – secretly writes it down. Jack takes Gwendolen to her carriage and Algernon is left on his own, with a smile on his face.
(A bell rings)
You called, sir.
Tomorrow, Lane, I’m going Bunburying.
I’m going to Hertfordshire. I shall probably not be back until Monday. You can prepare all my Bunbury clothes.
I hope tomorrow will be a fine day, Lane.
It never is, sir.
Lane, you are a perfect pessimist.
I do my best to give satisfaction, sir.
money someone gets from work or from investments
(here) old-fashioned word meaning ‘men from higher classes of society’
a county in the south of England
parts attached to a bag or other object so that you can hold it
place in a theatre, restaurant and previously in railway stations, where you can leave coats, bags and other small items.
to make certain that something happens
(phrasal verb) to become a member of a family or group by marrying someone who already belongs to it. (Here Wilde is comparing the cloakroom with a family)
form an alliance
put up with
(phrasal verb) to continue to accept a person or situation that is unpleasant
a very sad event or situation
a county in the south of England, near to London
The Importance of Being Earnest Ep3: Lost and found (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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