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Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

8. Act 1 – "Never met such a Gorgon"

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About this Lecture


In this module, we continue to read through Act 1 from Lady Bracknell's departure to the end of the Act, focusing in particular on: (i) the banter between Ernest/Jack and Algernon; (ii) the idea of the 'the truth' ("My dear fellow, the truth isn't quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl"); (iii) the plan to 'kill' Ernest; (iv) the comic reversal of young and old ("The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out"); and (v) Algernon's plan to go 'Bunburying'.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. In the first three lectures, we provide a broad introduction to the play, thinking about the life and career of Oscar Wilde, as well as the social, cultural and literary context of the play itself. After that, in the following twelve modules, we read through the entire play from start to finish, thinking about the character, setting, stagecraft, key themes and motifs, and critical opinion.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2021, April 23). Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest - Act 1 – "Never met such a Gorgon" [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest – Act 1 – "Never met such a Gorgon"." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Apr 2021,