You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

4. Act 1 – "Sentiment is my forte"

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we start to read through the play from the beginning of the Act 1 up to Algernon's comment that he "keeps science for Life", focusing in particular on: (i) the three-act structure of the play; (ii) the sense in which the play's comedy has several different levels; (iii) the aestheticism of the setting ("The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished"); (iv) Lane and the stock comic figure of the clever slave/servant; and (v) the 'banter' between Algernon and Lane, and later between Algernon and Ernest.


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 – "Sentiment is my forte" [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest – Act 1 – "Sentiment is my forte"." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Apr 2021,

Get instant access to over 6,400 lectures