What Do You Learn About Gwendolen and Cecily From This Excerpt?

In this excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” we gain insight into the characters of Gwendolen and Cecily. The scene takes place in the garden of the country estate, where both women are engaging in a conversation about their mutual love interest, Ernest.

From this excerpt, we learn that Gwendolen is a confident and assertive young woman. She is sure of her love for Ernest and believes that they are destined to be together. Gwendolen is also shown to have a sense of humor, as she playfully engages in banter with Cecily. She expresses her admiration for Ernest’s name, claiming that she has always had a particular fondness for the name “Ernest.” This indicates that she places importance on superficial attributes, such as a name, rather than focusing on the substance of a person.

On the other hand, Cecily appears to be more naive and innocent. She is infatuated with the idea of being in love with someone named Ernest, even though she has never met him. Cecily is portrayed as romantic and imaginative, as she confesses that she has been writing letters to herself from Ernest. This suggests that she is longing for love and excitement in her life, and she is willing to create a fantasy to fulfill that desire.

Overall, the excerpt presents Gwendolen as a more worldly and confident character, while Cecily appears to be sheltered and longing for adventure. Their contrasting personalities and perspectives add depth and humor to the play.


Q: What is the significance of Gwendolen’s admiration for the name “Ernest”?
A: Gwendolen’s admiration for the name “Ernest” reveals her superficial nature. She values appearances and attributes like a name, rather than focusing on the true character of a person. This adds a satirical element to the play, as it criticizes the obsession with external factors rather than genuine qualities.

See also  How Long Do School Bus Cameras Keep Footage

Q: Why does Cecily write letters to herself from Ernest?
A: Cecily writes letters to herself from Ernest as a way to escape her dull and monotonous life. She creates a fantasy where she is pursued by a charming and adventurous man named Ernest. This highlights her desire for excitement and love, which she feels is lacking in her everyday existence.

Q: How does the contrast between Gwendolen and Cecily contribute to the play’s themes?
A: The contrast between Gwendolen and Cecily reflects the theme of appearances versus reality. Gwendolen’s focus on superficial attributes, like a name, emphasizes the importance placed on societal expectations and appearances. Cecily, on the other hand, represents the dreamer who longs for a more exciting and romantic life. Their contrasting perspectives highlight the absurdity of societal norms and expectations.