The Importance of Being Earnest

by: Oscar Wilde

Act I, Part One

1

ALGERNON. Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.

2

ALGERNON. Well, in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don’t think it right. JACK. Oh, that is nonsense! ALGERNON. It isn’t. It is a great truth. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place.

3

ALGERNON. Oh! it is absurd to have a hard-and-fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.

4

JACK. Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country, and the cigarette case was given to me in the country.

5

JACK. For heaven’s sake, don’t try to be cynical. It’s perfectly easy to be cynical. ALGERNON. My dear fellow, it isn’t easy to be anything nowadays. There’s such a lot of beastly competition about.