Best quotes from The Importance of Being Earnest

By Oscar Wilde

128 Quotes    4.2 

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The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

Drama   Humor   Plays

Cecily. This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade.
Gwendolen. [Satirically.] I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.

You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.

This ghastly state of things is what you call Bunburying, I suppose?
Algernon. Yes, and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury it is. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life.
Jack. Well, you've no right whatsoever to Bunbury here.
Algernon. That is absurd. One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. Every serious Bunburyist knows that.

Indeed, no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.

Act iii   Age   Women

Come, dear, [Gwendolen rises] we have already missed five, if not six, trains. To miss any more might expose us to comment on the platform.

I never change, except in my affections.

The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

Oh, I don’t care about Jack. I don’t care for anybody in the whole world but you. I love you, Cecily. You will marry me, won’t you?
You silly boy! Of course. Why, we have been engaged for the last three months.
For the last three months?

I really don't see what is so romantic about proposing. One may be accepted - one usually is, I believe - and then the excitement is ended. The very essence of romance is uncertainty.

Jack: Actually, I was found.
Lady Bracknell: Found?
Jack: Uh, yes, I was in... a handbag.
Lady Bracknell: A handbag?
Jack: Yes, it was...
[makes gestures]
Jack: an ordinary handbag.

I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.

I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.

I love scrapes. They are the only things that are never serious."
"Oh, that's nonsense, Algy. You never talk anything but nonsense."
"Nobody ever does.

I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose.

You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter - a girl brought up with the utmost care - to marry into a cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel?

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 that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

I could deny it if I liked. I could deny anything if I liked.

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.

Prism! Where is that baby?

Good heavens, I suppose a man may eat his own muffins in his own garden."
"But you have just said it was perfectly heartless to eat muffins!"
"I said it was perfectly heartless of YOU under the circumstances. That is a very different thing."
"That may be, but the muffins are the same!

Long engagements give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which is never advisable.

Never met such a Gorgon . . . I don't really know what a Gorgon is like, but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair.

Now produce your explanation and pray make it improbable.

Well I won't argue about the matter. You always want to argue about things.
That is exactly what things were originally made for.

To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.

The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty, and to someone else if she is plain.

A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it.

Do you smoke?
Well, yes, I must admit I smoke.
I'm glad to hear of it. A man should always have an occupation of some kind.

I love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven't got the remotest knowledge of how to live nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?

LADY BRACKNELL. May I ask if it is in this house that your invalid friend Mr. Bunbury resides?
ALGERNON. [Stammering.] Oh! No! Bunbury doesn't live here. Bunbury is somewhere else at present. In fact, Bunbury is dead,
LADY BRACKNELL. Dead! When did Mr. Bunbury die? His death must have been extremely sudden.
ALGERNON. [Airily.] Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon.
LADY BRACKNELL. What did he die of?
ALGERNON. Bunbury? Oh, he was quite exploded.
LADY BRACKNELL. Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. Bunbury was interested in social legislation. If so, he is well punished for his morbidity.
ALGERNON. My dear Aunt Augusta, I mean he was found out! The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live, that is what I mean - so Bunbury died.
LADY BRACKNELL. He seems to have had great confidence in the opinion of his physicians. I am glad, however, that he made up his mind at the last to some definite course of action, and acted under proper medical advice. And now that we have finally got rid of this Mr. Bunbury, may I ask, Mr. Worthing, who is that young person whose hand my nephew Algernon is now holding in what seems to me a peculiarly unnecessary manner?

Oh! I don't think I would like to catch a sensible man. I shouldn't know what to talk to him about.

I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.

Humor   Life   Love   Marriage

Well, I know, of course, how important it is not to keep a business engagement, if one wants to retain any sense of the beauty of life.

Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs.

If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.

I hope you hair curls naturally, does it?
Yes, darling, with a little help from others.

I've now realised for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.

My dear Algy, you talk exactly as if you were a dentist. It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces false impression

If one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music people don't talk.

I don't play accurately--any one can play accurately--but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.

Jack? . . . No, there is very little music in the name Jack, if any at all, indeed. It does not thrill. It produces absolutely no vibrations . . . I have known several Jacks, and they all, without exception, were more than usually plain. Besides, Jack is a notorious domesticity for John! And I pity any woman who is married to a man called John. She would probably never be allowed to know the entrancing pleasure of a single moment’s solitude. The only really safe name is Ernest.

How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless."
"Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."
"I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.

I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.

Every woman becomes their mother. That's their tragedy. And no man becomes his. That's his tragedy.

Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.

Oh, don't cough, Ernest. When one is dictating one should speak fluently and not cough. Besides, I don't know how to spell a cough.

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