In The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack Worthing is madly in love with Gwendolen Fairfax. However, she is under the impression that his name is Ernest and will only marry a man named Ernest. Ernest is the name Jack uses to run around town without his innocent ward Cecily knowing about it. In the meantime, Gwendolen's mother, Lady Bracknell, objects. Afterall, he was a foundling, abandoned in a handbag in a London train station. Who knows who his parents might be?
Gwendolen plans an elopement and Jack needs to be re-Christened- post haste!- (just wanted to use that phrase) without her knowing she's been deceived. When another Ernest, appears on the scene things get a little sticky.
I haven't read a play in years. The last one was MacBeth in university. So this was a different reading experience for me. I completely enjoyed it! It was so silly. I'm sure every Three's Company plot grew from Earnest roots. Everyone is so ditsy but the writing manages to be clever. No one ever says what you expect them to say:
Lady Bracknell: "...I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. I hadn’t been there since her poor husband’s death. I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger."
I think it shows very clearly what Wilde thought of men and marriage in Victorian society: they try to get away with as much as they possibly can.