The Importance of Being Earnest

Loose ends

Couple things bothering me about this play . . .

1. Jack is marrying his first cousin.

2. At the end of the play, Cecily seems to forget all about her insistence on marrying a man named Earnest.

3. If Gwendolen is the daughter of Lord and Lady Bracknell, why is her last name Fairfax?

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Last updated by tina f #151935
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Hmm.. these are tough questions.

1. I had thought of that.


I saw the play acted out and I don't really agree with point #2. I think Earnest just pretends to find out that his name is Earnest when he looks up his family name in the book at the end.

Robin, the same thing happens in the newer film of the play.

As far as point 2 goes, in Victorian England members of the nobility would often be granted the title of Lord or Lady (Ladyship was usually bequeathed automatically to the Lord's wife). The name that followed his title would be that of a place in England, hence the monikers Lord and Lady Bracknell. In this play Lord and Lady Bracknell would still possess a surname, but have become known by their titles. Gwendolen, as their daughter, is inelegible for an automatic title, thus retaining 'Fairfax' as a surname.

And yes marrying your first cousin was actually a good thing back then... kept the wealth within the family concerning dowries and suchlike.

I think Wilde was being ironic when Cecily seemingly forgets her earlier obsessions with the name Ernest... just wanted to show how fickle people can be!

3. If Gwendolen is the daughter of Lord and Lady Bracknell, why is her last name Fairfax?

the reason why her last name is Fairfax is not as it is her middle name. It is her mothers maiden name. It was common in those times for the daughter to keep the mothers maiden name untill she was married and then took her husbands name/title. It is much like how a father passes alone his name, well the mothers name is able to be passed down aswell..

hey i know this is a bit too late but ..

2. Cecily does not get what she wants because Wilde did not have enough time to finish the ending. His work was RUSHED as the publisher wanted it too soon.