The Importance of Being Earnest

by: Oscar Wilde

Suggested Essay Topics

1. What is the overall effect of the play’s references to death? How is death, as a theme, dealt with in the play?

2. Is Cecily a more realistic character than Gwendolen? Why or why not?

3. Which union—Jack’s with Gwendolen or Algernon’s with Cecily—seems more likely to succeed?

4. Why or how is The Importance of Being Earnest funny? Analyze some aspects of Wildean wit. Is there a difference between being “witty” and being “funny”?

5. Discuss the character of Miss Prism. What kind of person is she and what seems to be her function in the play?

6. Wilde originally subtitled The Importance of Being Earnest “A Serious Comedy for Trivial People” but changed that to “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People.” What is the difference between the two subtitles?