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Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest

15. Act 3 – "Ernest! My own Ernest!"

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About this Lecture


In this module, we continue to read through Act 3 to the end of the play, focusing in in particular on: (i) the theme of lost children in other plays of this time – including some of Oscar Wilde's own, e.g. Lady Windermere's Fan, An Ideal Husband, etc.; (ii) the idea of there being one law for men and another for women, a theme that is explored in 'serious' novels such as Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles; (iii) the final revelation of Jack's real name; and (iv) the traditional comedic ending of a marriage or series of marriages.


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 3 – "Ernest! My own Ernest!" [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest – Act 3 – "Ernest! My own Ernest!"." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Apr 2021,