Passages Short Q & A: The Importance of Being Earnest

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ACT I

      (1) I'm sorry for that, for your sake. I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life. (Pg. 46)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) Where are they?

(c) What does the speaker feel sorry about?

(d) Explain the significance of the last two lines?

(e) How does the person addressed react?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above extract is Algernon Moncrieff. He is addressing his manservant Lane.

(b) Algernon and Lane are in the former's luxuriously furnished flat in Half-Moon Street, London.

(c) Algernon is playing the piano and when he enquires Lane about how good he played, Lane claims he didn't hear it. Lane feels it is impolite for a servant to listen to what his master is playing. On hearing this, Algernon feels sorry for him.

(d) As far as the piano is concerned, Algernon can put his emotion feeling into music. Sentiment or emotion is the most prominent quality, as far as his performance is concerned. Science, Algernon uses only where the business of daily living is concerned.

(e) The person addressed here is Lane and he reacts in an affirmative manner.

      (2) I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself upto the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young woman. (Pg. 48)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he talking to?

(b) Where are they present?

(c) According to the speaker what is in a very pleasant state?

(d) What is the significance of this passage?

Answers:

(a) The speaker is Lane and he is Algernon's manservant. He is addressing his master.

(b) They are present at Algernon Morcrieff's luxuriously furnished flat in Half-Moon Street, London.

(c) Lane is talking about marriage being a pleasant state of affairs. Algernon had asked him whether marriage is demoralizing or not. To this, Lane replies in ridiculously ambiguous manner.

(d) Algernon being a bachelor, assumes marriage to be a demoralizing thing. Lane contradicts him by articulating that marriage is a pleasant state of affairs. Although he has been married only once. But, this marriage was based on some misunderstanding between him and a young woman, perhaps his wife. Thus, one begins to wonder whether marriage is a demoralising thing or not.

      (3) I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact. (Pg. 50)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? To whom the speech is being addressed? Where is the addressee present?

(b) What aspect of the speaker's character we get from the above mentioned passage?

(c) What information does the speaker give?

(d) What does the speaker mean by 'excitement' getting over?

(e) What is the significance of the last line of the extract?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above speech is Algernon Moncrieff. He is speaking to Jack Worthing. They are present at Algernon's residence at Half-Moon Street, London.

(b) The witty nature of Algernon is conspicuous in the above mentioned passage.

(c) Algernon says that it is romantic to be in love, but there is nothing romantic in proposing.

(d) Love is an exciting thing. But when you propose someone and if the
person accepts your proposal, all the excitement gets over since, there will be no charm of uncertainty. This is what the speaker means by his speech.

(e) The last line of the extract signifies that if ever Algernon gets married, he'll certainly try to forget it. In this manner, the excitement of being in love will always linger on.

      (4) My dear fellow, what on earth is there in that? Some aunts are tall, some aunts are not tall. That is a matter that surely an aunt may be allowed to decide for herself. You seem to think that every aunt should be exactly like your aunt! (Pg. 56)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing? Where are they present?

(b) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(c) Describe the mental condition of the speaker in the above extract?

(d) What is the significance of the last line of the dialogue?

Answers:

(a) The following extract is spoken by Jack Worthing. He is addressing Algernon. They both are present at Algernon's residence.

(b) Algernon questions Jack about his aunt being "little". To this Jack replies that some aunt might be tall and some be short. Jack obviously does not seem interested in telling much about his aunt to Algernon.

(c) Jack looks irritated and seems to be avoiding his friend's questions. He is obviously lying and is desperately trying to convince Algernon with his lie.

(d) Jack is telling Algernon that all the aunts cannot be like his aunt, who is dominating and interfering. The last line of the speech particularly refers to Jack's abhorrence towards Algernon's aunt.

      (5) You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to everyone as Ernest. You answer to the name of Ernest. You. look as if your name was Ernest. You are the most earnest looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly absurd your saying that your name isn't Ernest. It's on your cards. Here is one of them. I'll keep this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it to me, or to Gwendolen, or to anyone else. (Pg. 56)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(c) What does the speaker mean by saying: "You are the most earnest looking person I ever saw in my life".

(d) Does the following extract contain any kind of pun?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the following passage is Algernon Moncrieff and he is addressing Jack.

(b) Algernon looks surprised on hearing Jack's truth. Jack had never revealed his real name to Algernon. The entire town and Algernon himself knew him as Ernest, which wasn't his real name.

(c) Algernon is telling Jack that he is the most earnest looking fellow and how could his name not be Ernest! It was absurd for him to believe that Jack's name wasn't Earnest.

(d) 'Pun' refers to a humorous use of a word to suggest another that sounds the same. Here one can observe that the pun is intended on the word 'Earnest' with 'Ernest'.

      (6) My dear Algy, I don't know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. You are hardly serious enough. When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. It's one's duty to do so. And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one's health or one's happiness, in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest, who lives in the Albany, and gets into the most dreadful scrapes: That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple. (Pg. 58)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) Why does the speaker react in this way?

(c) What is the significance of the first sentence and the last?

(d) Why does the guardian need to adopt a high moral tone on all subjects?

(e) What does the speaker mean by "most dreadful scrapes"?

Answers:

(a) The above mentioned passage is spoken by Jack Worthing. He is addressing the same to Algernon Moncrieff.

(b) Jack is replying to Algernon's question - why the former is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. Jack is completely honest when he speaks the above passage.

(c) In the first sentence Jack is trying to explain the real motive behind his lie to Algernon. At the same time he feels that Algernon may or may not be able to understand his explanation.

(d) When a man is placed in the position of a guardian it becomes necessary for him to adopt a very high moral tone in speaking on any subject whatsoever. It becomes a guardian's duty to speak in that tone to instill high moral qualities in his words. A high moral tone does not promote either a man's happiness or a man's health. Therefore, it is important for Jack to speak freely without having to adopt a high moral tone.

(e) Jack pretended to have a younger brother who got into most dreadful scrapes, which refers to difficult and embarrassing situation.

      (7) Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don't try it. You should leave that to people who haven't been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers. What you really are is a Bunburyist. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunbnryist. You are one of the most advanced Bunbuiyists I know. (Pg. 60)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) What does he mean by "Literary criticism is not your forte"?

(c) What information does the speaker give?

(d) Who is a Bunburyist?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the following passage is Algernon and he is addressing Jack.

(b) While conversing with Jack upon hearing Jack's real identity Algernon comments that truth is rarely pure and simple and this impure truth constitutes modern life and modern literature would be impossible without this impure truth. Jack mockingly replies that it would be good enough if modern literature no more exists. Listening Jack's opinion Algernon tells Jack that literary criticism is not his strong point and thus he should not pass literary judgements.

(c) Algernon is trying to tell Jack that he should not pass literary judgements and should leave it for people who have never attended a university. The daily newspapers contain many such good literary criticisms which are attempted by men who have never been to a university. He compares Jack to a Bunburyist.

(d) Algernon had invented an invaluable friend called Bunbury, so that he can go down into the country whenever he chooses to Bunbury is an imaginary person like Jack's brother Ernest.

      (8) I haven't the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. To begin with, I dined there on Monday, and once a week is quite enough to dine with one's own relatives. In the second place, whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family, and sent down with either no woman at all, or two. In the third place, I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to, tonight. She will place me next to Mary Farquhar who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner table. That is not very pleasant. Indeed, it is not even decent.....and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public. Besides, now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. I want to tell you the rules. (Pg. 60)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) What information does the speaker give?

(c) Why doesn't the speaker want to dine with his aunt Augusta?

(d) Who is Mary Farquhar? What kind of indecent behaviour she practices?

(e) Who is a confirmed Bunburyist?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the given passage is Algernon Moncrieff. He is addressing Jack.

(b) The speaker, Algernon, has no intention of dining with his aunt. At dinner parties he is usually provided with either no female companion or with two female companions. Therefore, Algernon is unable to enjoy himself. He further talks about women - flirting with their respective husbands in public. He also wants to discuss about Bunburying with Jack.

(c) Algernon is not very fond of his aunt, Lady Bracknell (Augusta). For him it is sufficient to dine with one's relatives once a week. Usually when he dines with her, little attention is given to him. He is either provided with no female company at all or provided with two female companions. This makes Algernon unable to enjoy himself.

(d) Mary Farquhar is a married woman who keeps flirting with her husband. He sits opposite to her on the other side of the dinner table. According to Algernon, a woman flirting with her own husband is not very pleasant and thus it is an indecent behaviour on her part.

(e) Algernon is referring to Jack Worthing as a confirmed Bunburyist. Jack had very cleverly lied to everyone about Ernest.

      (9) Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life. I am always telling that to your poor uncle, but he never seems to take much notice.....as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Bunbury, from me, to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday, for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. It is my last reception and one wants something that will engage conversation, particularly at the end of the season when everyone has practically said whatever they had to say, which, in most cases, was probably not much. (Pg. 68)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speakers? Whom is he addressing?

(b) What does the speaker mean by shilly-shallying?

(c) Why is health the primary duty of life?

(d) Find one amusing sentence from the passage and explain it?

Answers:

(a) Lady Bracknell is the speaker of the passage and she is addressing her nephew, Algernon.

(b) The term shilly- shallying was spoken by Lady Bracknell. It refers to a state of uncertainty and indecision.

(c) According to Lady Bracknell, every human being should maintain good health. If one is not healthy, one would not be able to do his
assigned duty. She keeps telling her husband the same, but he never seems to pay any heed to her. He shows no improvement in his condition and the ailment lingers on.

(d) The witty remark spoken by the speaker, Lady Bracknell, is when she says: "I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Bunbury, from me, to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday, for I rely on you to arrange my music for me." Here Lady Bracknell is telling Algernon that he should request Mr. Bunbury not to have another attack of his disease because she needed Algernon's help to arrange a musical programme on that day.

      (10) Yes, I am quite well aware of the fact. And I often wish that in public, at any rate, you have been more demonstrative. For me you have always had an irresistible fascination, Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you. We live, as I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals. The fact is constantly mentioned in more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial pulpits I am told: and my ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest. There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I know I was destined to love you. (Pg. 70)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? Where are they present?

(b) What does the speaker mean by being publicly demonstrative?

(c) What is the speaker trying to say when she talks about an age of ideals? What does she mean by 'provincial pulpits'?

(d) "There is something in the name that inspires absolute confidence" - what does the statement imply?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above mentioned extract is Gwendolen Fairfax. She is addressing Jack Worthing and they both are sitting in Algernins residence at Half Moon Street, London.

(b) Gwendolen is telling Jack to express his feelings more freely and frankly in public so that people come to know what he thinks of her.

(c) By talking about ideals, Gwendolen is referring to aspirations. People usually cherish ideals. Her ideal has been to love someone by the name of Ernest. By 'provincial pupits' she refers to the priests who talk about the worship of ideals in the provinces during the course of their sermons in churches.

(d) There is something in the name "Ernest" that made Gwendolen to have complete faith in the man having this name. It makes her feel that the man is trustworthy.

      (11) Jack?......No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibration......I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment's solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest. (Pg. 72)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? Where are they present?
(b) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(c) "It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations" - what does the speaker mean by this statement?

(d) What is the speaker trying to convey when she says "Jack is a notorious domesticity for John"?

(e) What is the significance of the last sentence?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above mentioned extract is Gwendolen Fairfax. She is addressing Jack Worthing and they are seated in Algernon Moncrieff's residence.

(b) Gwendolen looks surprised on hearing the name Jack. Jack loves Gwendolen and she in return feels the same only because his name is "Ernest." But Jack tells her there are several other names which sound charming. He gives the example of the name Jack. On hearing this, Gwendolen is obviously bewildered as she thinks the name too ordinary.

(c) Gwendolen feels that the name 'Jack' does not produce any thrill or sensation in her. It further produces no excitement in her heart. She further articulates that she had known several men by the same name and they all are exceedingly unattractive.

(d) Gwendolen feels that the name Jack is only a domestic substitute for the name John. Anybody by that name is addressed as "Jack" in his home. She pities women who are married to men by that name because such men would keep pestering their wives, never leaving their company.

(e) Ernest is the only safe name because such man will often leave his wife alone to enjoy the feeling of tranquility.

      (12) I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. (Pg. 76.)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing?

(b) What is the significance of the first and second sentences of the passage?

(c) How can the theory of modern education be radically unsound?

(d) "In England, education produces no effect whatsoever" - what is the speaker trying to say?

Answers:

(a) Lady Bracknell is the speaker of the above mentioned passage. She is talking to Jack.

(b) Lady Bracknell is pleased to hear that Jack knows nothing as he reveals in the previous line. In the second line Lady Bracknell says that she does not approve of anything that in any way hinders or interferes with the natural ignorance of a person.

(c) Lady Bracknell feels that the whole system of modern education is completely wrong. In England, education has not produced any fruitful result.

(d) In England, ignorant people remain the same despite the education they receive. If education had to remove ignorance, it would prove to be a serious threat to the upper classes and thus lead to violent acts in a fashionable area like Grosvenor Square.

      (13) To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the particular locality in which the hand bag was found, a cloak room at a railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion - has probably, indeed, been used for the purpose before now - but it would hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognized position in good society. (Pg. 80) .

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? Where are they present?

(b) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(c) What does the speaker mean by "the worst excesses of the French Revolution"?

(d) Who was found in a hand-bag?

(e) What is the speaker trying to say when she articulates: "to conceal a social indiscretion".

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above mentioned passage is Lady Bracknell. She is addressing Jack and they both are seated in Algernon's residence.

(b) The speaker, Lady Bracknell, is bewildered to hear about Jack's family background and parentage. He did not have parents and was brought up by his guardian. Besides, he was found as an infant in a leather hand-bag in a station.

(c) By this phrase Lady Bracknell means the chaotic atmosphere unleashed by French Revolution when the people of lower class acquired the power of governance which, according to Lady Bracknell, gave birth to excessive indecencies.

(d) As said earlier, Jack Worthing was found in a leather hand-bag in the cloak room of Victoria Railway station, London.

(e) Lady Bracknell says that the particular locality in which the hand-bag was found, a cloak-room at a railway station, might serve the purpose of a man or a woman to hide an illicit sexual relationship and the consequent birth of an unwanted child. A child found in such a manner, according to her, is not likely to be accepted in a respectable society.

      (14) Few parents now-a-days pay any regard to what their children say to them. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out. Whatever influence I ever had over mamma, I lost at the age of three. But although she may prevent us from becoming man and wife, and I may marry someone else, and marry often, nothing that she can possibly do can alter my eternal devotion to you. (Pg. 88)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? What is the speaker's state of mind when she says the following statement?

(b) Why does the speaker say that few parents pay any regard to what their children have to say?

(c) What does the speaker mean by - "Old fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out"?

(d) What is the significance of the last sentence of the passage?

Answers:

(a) Gwendolen is the speaker of the above mentioned passage. She is addressing Jack. She is feeling extremely low and depressed because her mother, Lady Bracknell, has rejected her marriage with Jack Worthing.

(b) Lady Bracknell does not pay any heed to what her daughter has to say. The respect which the elders used to show towards the young people in the past is now rapidly disappearing.

(c) The speaker feels that in earlier days parents used to listen to what their children had to say. But times have changed today and they simply dominate their kids now.

(d) Gwendolen tells Jack that although her mother may prevent them from getting married and she would eventually get married to someone else, yet her devotion and true love for Jack would never fade.

ACT II

      (15) I do not think that even I could produce any effect on a character that according to his own brother's admission is irretrievably weak and vacillating. Indeed I am not sure that I would desire to reclaim him. I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment's notice. As a man sows so let him reap. You must put away your diary, Cecily. I really don't see why you should keep a dairy at all. (Pg. 94)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? What is the relationship between the two?

(b) What is the speaker trying to say in the opening line of the passage?

(c) "I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment's notice" - explain.

(d) Why doesn't the speaker want Cecily to keep a diary?

Answers:

(a) Miss Prism is the speaker of the above mentioned extract. She is addressing Miss Cecily Cardew, who is the ward of Jack Worthing. Miss Prism is Cecily's governess.

(b) Miss Prism is talking about Jack's fictitious brother, Ernest Worthing, who is living in the town. Cecily wants Miss Prism to teach Ernest and make him a decent human being. Miss Prism says that she cannot influence a man, whose character is very weak and is beyond any reform.

(c) This statement means that Miss Prism is not in favour of the modern obsession to reform bad people on a short notice. She further says that let a man suffer the consequences of his own habits and actions.

(d) Cecily maintains a diary in order to record the wonderful secrets of her life. But Miss Prism disapproves of it. She says that human memory is itself a diary that we carry with us. Therefore, there is no need to record things in black and white.

      (16) My sermon on the meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any occasion, joyful, or, as in the present case distressing (All sigh). I have preached it at harvest celebrations, christenings, confirmations on days of humiliation and festal days. The last time I delivered it was in a Cathedral, as a charity sermon on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Discontentment among the Upper Orders. The Bishop, who was present, was much struck by some of the analogies I drew. (Pg. 108)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing? Where was they present?

(b) What is the speaker trying to say in the first sentence?

(c) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(d) Name the third person present there?

Answers:

(a) Dr. Chasuble, a clergyman is the speaker of the above mentioned passage. He is addressing Jack Worthing. They are standing in the garden at the Manor House. It is located in the countryside and is Jack's residence.

(b) Dr. Chasuble is talking about the burial of Ernest Worthing. He says that the sermon delivered by him about the meaning of the Biblical episode of the Israelites receiving food from God in the wilderness can be interpreted to suit any occasion, joyful or sorrowful.

(c) The speaker, Dr. Chasuble, is extremely sad to hear the sudden demise of Ernest Worthing. He wants to make reference about this sad domestic misfortune, when he preaches his sermon next Sunday. He is an experienced gentleman and has preached a charity sermon before and last time he preached on behalf of the society for the Prevention of Discontentment among the upper classes.

(d) Besides Dr. Chasuble and Jack Worthing, Miss Prism is also present in the garden and is engaged in a conversation with both of them.

      (17) Outside the family circle, papa, I am glad to say, is entirely unknown. I think that is quite as it should be. The home seems to me the proper sphere for the man. And certainly, once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate, does he not? And I don't like that. It makes men so very attractive. (Pg. 130)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? Where are they present?

(b) What is the relationship between the two of them?

(c) Is the speaker right in saying that - "Home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man"? Do you agree and disagree? Give reasons.

(d) What is the speaker trying to say, when she says "Man becomes painfully effeminate"?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above mentioned dialogue is Gwendolen Fairfax. She is addressing Miss Cecily Cardew in the same. She speaks out these lines while talking with Cecily in the garden of Jack's countryside residence at Manor House.

(b) Gwendolen Fairfax is the daughter of Lady Bracknell and is in love with Ernest Worthing, who is Jack Worthing in disguise. Cecily, on the other hand is also in love with Ernest Worthing, who is Algernon Moncrieff in disguise. The two girls become good friends the moment after they meet. Later, when they become aware of the fact that both of them are engaged to 'Ernest Worthing', they turn into enemies.

(c) It is usually considered that home or domesticity is the sphere of a woman. However, here the speaker begs to differ. In her opinion, home is the proper sphere for a man and his activities should be confined to the home itself.

(d) According to Gwendolen, when a man begins to neglect his domestic duties, he becomes womanish in character. She has no interest in men who become womanish by neglecting their household duties.

      (18) Gwendolen - Cecily- it is very painful for me to be forced to speak the truth. It is the first time in my life that I have ever been reduced to such a painful position, and I am really quite inexperienced in doing anything of the kind. However I will tell you quite frankly that I have no brother Ernest. I have no brother at all. I never had a brother in my life, and I certainly have not the smallest intention of ever having one in the future. (Pg. 142)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing? Where are they located?

(b) Why does he react in this manner?

(c) Why is it painful for the speaker to tell the truth?

(d) What is the significance of the last sentence? Does it come true?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above mentioned sentence is Jack Worthing. He is addressing both Cecily and Gwendolen. They are present at Jack's residence, Manor House, in the countryside.

(b) The following extract shows that Jack is honest and is revealing the truth to the girls. He looks embarrassed and it is painful for him to tell the truth.

(c) Jack Worthing was living a dual life, full of lies and deceit. But now he had been caught and had no choice, but to reveal the truth. And yes, it was painful for him.

(d) The last sentence tells about how Jack has never had a brother at all. In near future also he has no intention of having any. However, this does not happen. Later, when Jack's parentage is revealed, we come to know that Algernon is the real brother of Jack. Hence, Jack's desire of not having a brother never comes true.

      (19) Well, one must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life. I happen to be serious about Bunburying. What on earth you are serious about I haven't got the remotest idea. About everything, I should fancy. You have such on absolutely trivial nature. (Pg. 144)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker ? Whom is he addressing? Where are they present?

(b) What is the significance of the first sentence? Do you notice anything strange in it?

(c) " I happen to be serious about Bunburying." - what is the speaker trying to say?

(d) Why does the speaker say - "You have such an absolutely trivial nature"?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of the above mentioned passage is Algernon Moncrieff. He is addressing his friend Jack Worthing and both of them are present in Jack's Manor House in the countryside.

(b) Algernon is trying to say that one must be serious in life, if that person in aiming at something. In his case, the aim is amusement which is lying. The statement is contradictory because how can someone be serious about something funny or amusing?

(c) Algernon has always lied about having a fictitious friend called Bunbury in the countryside to his aunt Augusta. For Algernon, Bunburying refers to lying. Thus, he is telling Jack that he is a man who is serious about lying.

(d) The speaker tells Jack that he has an absolutely trivial nature. Jack is serious about everything in life. Algernon, on the other hand, is an amusing fellow. In his paradoxical view Jack's seriousness becomes triviality.

      (20) When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as anyone who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins. (Pg. 146)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(c) What characteristic trait of the speaker is revealed in the given speech?

Answers:

(a) Algernon Moncrieff speaks the above mentioned dialogue to Jack Worthing.

(b) The speaker seems to be upset and in such situation, he only eats and drinks. Jack wants Algernon to leave his house immediately. Algernon is in love with Cecily and refuses to leave. In a state of unhappiness, he begins eating muffins in a greedy manner.

(c) Algernon is witty by nature and is adept at lying. He has lied about Bunbury to his aunt Augusta and has also pretended to be Ernest
Worthing in front of Cecily. The following passage reveals a very unusual behaviour of Algernon. Whenever he is in trouble and is feeling low, he begins gorging on food.

ACT III

      (21) In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing. Mr. Worthing, what explanation can you offer to me for pretending to have a brother? Was it in order that you might have an opportunity of coming up to town to see me as often as possible? (Pg. 150)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing?

(b) What is the significance of the first sentence?

(c) Why does the speaker react in this manner?

(d) Who all are present in the room besides Cecily?

Answers:

(a) The speaker of above mentioned passge is Gwendolen Fairfax. She is addressing Jack Worthing.

(b) Gwendolen is of the view that style, not sincerity, is the most important and serious matter in life.

(c) The speaker is annoyed with Jack for introducing himself by the false name 'Ernest'. However, Jack's manner of speech, that is his style, pacifies her. She now wants to know the reason behind such imposture. In this case her reaction is very firm yet cool. But, to the readers it is funny.

(d) Besides Gwendolen Fairfax, and Miss Cecily Cardew, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff are present there.

      (22) A life crowded with incident, I see; though perhaps somewhat too exciting for a young girl. I am not myself in favour of premature experiences (Rises, looks at her watch.) Gwendolen! the time approaches for your departure. We have not a moment to lose. As a matter of form, Mr. Worthing, I had better ask you if Miss Cardew has any little fortune? (Pg. 158)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? Where are they located?

(b) What is the significance of the first sentence? Whose life is crowded with incidents?

(c) What does the speaker mean when she says I am not myself in favour of premature experiences?

(d) Why is the speaker interested in knowing Cecily's fortune?

Answers:

(a) Lady Bracknell is the speaker and she is addressing Jack Worthing. They are present in Jack's Manor House in the countryside.

(b) The speaker is referring to Miss Cecily Cardew who during her childhood had suffered from whooping cough, vaccination, confirmation, measles etc. She says that Cecily had too many experiences and she had an eventful life, so to say.

(c) Lady Bracknell felt that so many events in the life of Cecily were a little too much for a young girl. She is also not in favour of a young girl having so many experiences.

(d) Lady Bracknell used to judge people on the basis of their fortune. She is aware of the fact that her nephew Algernon is interested in Cecily. Therefore, she enquires about Cecily's fortune. Later, when she becomes aware of Cecily's fortune of a hundred and thirty thousand pounds, in her view Cecily becomes the most eligible girl for her nephew.

      (23) Few girls of the present day have any real solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time. We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces. (To CECILY) Come over here, dear. (CECILY goes flcross) Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple, and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her. (Pg. 158)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing?

(b) What is the significance of the first line?

(c) Whom does the speaker address as "pretty child"?

(d) Who is a French maid?

Answers:

(a) Lady Bracknell is the speaker and she is addressing Jack.

(b) According to Lady Bracknell, very few girls of present day have any genuine qualities which are lasting and are likely to improve with the passage of time.

(c) The speaker addresses Miss Cecily as "pretty child". She looks at her dress and says that it is excessively simple and thus, fell sorry for her.

(d) Lady Bracknell says that improvements in the dress and hair of Cecily can be made by utilizing the services of a thoroughly experienced French maid. They can bring about a lot of change within a short span of time.

      (24) I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter. This afternoon, during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance, he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. Under an assumed name he drank, I've just been informed by my butler, an entire pint bottle of my Perrier - Jouet, Brut,' 89; a wine I was specially reserving for myself. Continuing his disgraceful deception, he succeeded in the course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward. (Pg. 162)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) What does the first sentence of the passage imply?

(c) Who is the person that the speaker is talking about in the passage? Why does he look annoyed?

(d) What is the significance of the last sentence of the paragraph?

Answers:

(a) Jack Worthing is the speaker. He is addressing Lady Bracknell.

(b) Jack accuses Algernon of being a liar. Lady Bracknell completely denies the accusations and says that her nephew is from Oxford University, so he cannot be a liar. Jack then says that he has no doubt about Algernon being an Oxonian.

(c) The speaker is referring to Algernon and is very annoyed with him. Jack tells Lady Bracknell that her nephew entered his house in disguise pretending to be his brother. He also drank the entire pint bottle of Jack's favourite wine. Later he successfully won the heart of his (i.e. Jack's) ward, Miss Cecily Cardew.

(d) Algernon was successful in leaving a mark in Cecily's heart. Her liking does not take much lime to develop into a love. She did not feel the same affection and respect for her uncle, Jack Worthing.

      (25) The plain facts of the case are these. On the morning of the day you mention, a day that is forever branded in my memory, I prepared as usual to take the baby out in its perambulator. I had also with me a somewhat old but capacious hand-bag in which I had intended to place the manuscript of a work of fiction that I had written during my few unoccupied hours. In a moment of mental abstraction, for which I never can forgive myself, I deposited the manuscript in the bassinette, and placed the baby in the hand-bag. (Pg. 170)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is she addressing? Where are they present?

(b) What is the significance of the first line of the paragraph.

(c) Which baby is the speaker talking about?

(d) Why does the speaker react in this manner? What does it say about the speaker's character?

Answers:

(a) Miss Prism, who is the governess of Miss Cecily Cardew is the speaker. She is addressing Lady Bracknell. They are present at Jack's residence, Manor House.

(b) The speaker honestly wants to tell all the facts to Lady Bracknell in the proper sequence, without leaving out any details.

(c) The baby that Miss Prism is talking about is Jack Worthing.

(d) Miss Prism used to be a nurse in Lady Bracknell's household. Twenty eight years ago she took the baby out in a perambulator. She was also carrying a hand-bag, in which she intended to put the manuscript of a novel written by her. In a sheer state of absent mindedness, she left the baby in the hand-bag and her manuscript in the perambulator. The baby was apparently Jack Worthing. Miss Prism, it seems, is an absent-minded lady to create such a blunder.

(26) Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. But after all, who has the right to cast a stone against one who has suffered? Cannot repentance wipe out an act of folly? Mother, I forgive you. (Pg. 172)

Questions:

(a) Who is the speaker? Whom is he addressing?

(b) Why does the speaker look aghast in the first sentence of the passage?

(c) What is the speaker trying to say in the central or middle part of the speech? To whom is he addressing these questions?

(d) "Mother, I forgive you" - who is 'mother' here? Why would the speaker forgive her?

Answers:

(a) Jack Worthing is the speaker and he is addressing Miss Prism.

(b) Jack mistakenly considers Miss Prism his mother who gave birth to him without getting married. This is shocking news. Obviously, there is a misunderstanding here that gets clarified later.

(c) Jack is telling Miss Prism that nobody has the right to condemn or criticize her since she has suffered a lot. Miss Prism might have committed an act of folly by allowing an unscrupulous man to seduce her but now she must be feeling sorry for the terrible blunder. Jack says that repentance takes away the sinfulness of an action. He further articulates if men can have illicit love affairs, women should also be treated in a lenient manner. All these questions are addressed by him to the society in general.

(d) 'Mother' is Miss Prism whom Jack thinks had given birth to hint despite being unmarried. Like a dutiful son he has forgiven his mother.

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