Part 3: Characterization in The Importance of Being Earnest (Quiz)

Flashcard maker : Edwin Holland
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. [In a pathetic voice.] Miss Prism, more is restored to you than this hand-bag. I was the baby you placed in it.

Miss Prism. [Amazed.] You?

Jack. [Embracing her.] Yes . . . mother!

Miss Prism. [Recoiling in indignant astonishment.] Mr. Worthing! I am unmarried!

Which Victorian social code is reflected in Miss Prism’s words and actions?

A. The importance of social rules
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Gwendolen. True! I had forgotten. There are principles at stake that one cannot surrender. Which of us should tell them? The task is not a pleasant one.

Cecily. Could we not both speak at the same time?

Gwendolen. An excellent idea! I nearly always speak at the same time as other people. Will you take the time from me?

Cecily. Certainly. [Gwendolen beats time with uplifted finger.]

Gwendolen and Cecily [Speaking together.] Your Christian names are still an insuperable barrier. That is all!

Which trait is most shown by both Cecily and Gwendolen in this excerpt?

A. Determination
What does this passage convey about Algernon’s values?

Algernon. Cecily is the sweetest, dearest, prettiest girl in the whole world. And I don’t care twopence about social possibilities.

He cares more about romance than about social status.
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lady Bracknell. [Sitting down again.] A moment, Mr. Worthing. A hundred and thirty thousand pounds! And in the Funds! Miss Cardew seems to me a most attractive young lady, now that I look at her. Few girls of the present day have any really solid qualities, any of the qualities that last, and improve with time. We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces. [To Cecily.] Come over here, dear. [Cecily goes across.] Pretty child! your dress is sadly simple, and your hair seems almost as Nature might have left it. But we can soon alter all that. A thoroughly experienced French maid produces a really marvellous result in a very brief space of time. I remember recommending one to young Lady Lancing, and after three months her own husband did not know her.

Based on this passage, Lady Bracknell most clearly places value on the importance of

D. Appearances
In this excerpt, the Victorian social code that stresses the importance of manners is most reflected through
Jack’s words when he addresses Lady Bracknell.
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. [In a pathetic voice.] Miss Prism, more is restored to you than this hand-bag. I was the baby you placed in it.

Miss Prism. [Amazed.] You?

Jack. [Embracing her.] Yes . . . mother!

Miss Prism. [Recoiling in indignant astonishment.] Mr. Worthing! I am unmarried!

Jack. Unmarried! I do not deny that is a serious blow. But after all, who has the right to cast a stone against one who has suffered? Cannot repentance wipe out an act of folly? Why should there be one law for men, and another for women? Mother, I forgive you. [Tries to embrace her again.]

What is the best conclusion that can be drawn about Jack, based on his words and actions in this excerpt?

B. He is inclined to show his emotions.
Based on this excerpt, which Victorian social code was important to the upper class?

Lady Bracknell. Markby, Markby, and Markby? A firm of the very highest position in their profession. Indeed I am told that one of the Mr. Markby’s is occasionally to be seen at dinner parties. So far I am satisfied.

Social ranking
How can Lady Bracknell asking Miss Cardew (Cecily) if she is “at all connected with any of the larger railway stations in London” be seen as a reflection of Victorian social codes?
Knowing that Jack was found as a baby in a railway station, she is concerned that Algernon wants to marry someone who may be of a lower social ranking.
What trait does Jack show in this excerpt?
An ability to negotiate
Which line from The Importance of Being Earnest best makes this point?
“To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life . . .”
What does Lady Bracknell say that makes light of marriage in this excerpt?
She says that Lady Harbury looks younger since her husband’s death.
The literary device used in this line is a(n)

Cecily. It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time.

Epigram
A comedy of manners is a type of dramatic comedy that ________ the rules and behaviors of a society.
Humorously critiques
Part of the excerpt would be considered an epigram because
The short, witty statement “Divorces are made in Heaven” offers a surprising take on divorces.
The epigram that Algernon uses in his last line provides a critique about

Algernon. Oh! it is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.

How the rules of Victorian society dictated many things, even what was proper to read.
Based on this excerpt, what behavior does Jack most clearly disapprove of?
Being deceptive
What does this excerpt most clearly convey about Lady Bracknell?
She thinks that family background is important.
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. [In a pathetic voice.] Miss Prism, more is restored to you than this hand-bag. I was the baby you placed in it.

Miss Prism. [Amazed.] You?

Jack. [Embracing her.] Yes . . . mother!

Miss Prism. [Recoiling in indignant astonishment.] Mr. Worthing! I am unmarried!

What do you learn about Miss Prism from this excerpt?

C. She believes in adherence to societal expectations.
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. Pray excuse me, Lady Bracknell, for interrupting you again, but it is only fair to tell you that according to the terms of her grandfather’s will Miss Cardew does not come legally of age till she is thirty-five.

The best conclusion that can be drawn from Jack’s words is that he is

wrong -Religious
Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Chasuble. [Looking rather puzzled, and pointing to Jack and Algernon.] Both these gentlemen have expressed a desire for immediate baptism.

Lady Bracknell. At their age? The idea is grotesque and irreligious! Algernon, I forbid you to be baptized. I will not hear of such excesses. Lord Bracknell would be highly displeased if he learned that that was the way in which you wasted your time and money.

How do Lady Bracknell’s words reflect Victorian social codes?

wrong A. They demonstrate the importance of manners.

B. They illustrate a strict adherence to social rules.

wrong C. They stress the necessity of being a “gentleman.”

D. They express the value of education over religion.

Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lady Bracknell. That does not seem to me to be a grave objection. Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now. I see no reason why our dear Cecily should not be even still more attractive at the age you mention than she is at present. There will be a large accumulation of property.

Which Victorian social codes are reflected in this excerpt? Check all that apply.

Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Lady Bracknell. [With a shiver, crossing to the sofa and sitting down.] I do not know whether there is anything peculiarly exciting in the air of this particular part of Hertfordshire, but the number of engagements that go on seems to me considerably above the proper average that statistics have laid down for our guidance.

What Victorian social code is reflected in Lady Bracknell’s disapproval of the number of engagements?

A. the belief that romance should play a large role in engagements

wrong B. the perception that quick engagements go against religious beliefs

C. the belief that engagements and marriages should follow social rules

wrong D. the perception that it is important to marry within one’s social class

Read the excerpt from Act III of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Jack. I fear there can be no possible doubt about the matter. This afternoon during my temporary absence in London on an important question of romance, he obtained admission to my house by means of the false pretence of being my brother. Under an assumed name he drank, I’ve just been informed by my butler, an entire pint bottle of my Perrier-Jouet, Brut, ’89; wine I was specially reserving for myself. Continuing his disgraceful deception, he succeeded in the course of the afternoon in alienating the affections of my only ward.

What is the most accurate conclusion that can be drawn about Algernon based on Jack’s words?

D. He is mischievous to suit his purposes.

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