The Importance of Being Earnest
Act II Study Guide/CP English III
1. What is important about Miss Prism’s words to Cecily about watering the flowers in the very beginning of Act II? What does this show about Miss Prism?
2. Choose a line by Cecily in the beginning of Act II that demonstrates her character/personality to readers.
3. Tell me something that we learn about Dr. Chasuble very shortly after he arrives on scene.
4. Algernon arrives on scene and readers quickly see that his plan is to________________________________________.
5. First, recall the meaning of the word misanthrope from our earlier vocabulary studies (I know you remember this!). Then interpret the following words by Miss Prism: “You are too much alone, dear Dr. Chasuble. You should get married. A misanthrope I can understand – a womanthrope, never!” (Kelly 283).
6. Jack finally arrives on scene at his country house. How is he dressed, and why is he dressed this way?
7. After being told that his brother Ernest is waiting in the house, Jack says, “What nonsense! I haven’t got a brother.” Why does what he’s just informed others of AND what we know of
Jack’s character enable us to make sense of this quote? (Two ways of looking at it.)
8. What is Jack’s response to Algernon’s (Ernest’s) appearance? How does he act towards him, and how does Cecily respond to this behavior? Why is it important to note Cecily’s response?
Part II of Act II
9. What does Cecily say about her diary when Algernon asks about it? How does this response from Cecily support what we know about Oscar Wilde and his writing of Earnest ?
10. Algernon says to Cecily, “I must see [Dr. Chasuble] at once on an important christening ---- I mean on most important business” (Kelly 292).
What does this remind you of from earlier in the play? Why is this important?
11. Tell me about the confusion between Cecily and Gwendolen after they meet. What’s the problem?
12. How does each of the women (Gwedolen and Cecily) respond to this confusion/misunderstanding/problem? (Provide an example of either their words or actions.)
13. Write the line towards the end of Act II which shows a rapid turnaround on Gwendolen’s part
(she speaks to Cecily). What is Wilde saying about upper class Victorian women and perhaps even about women in general?
14. Relate your answer from number 13 to today’s society. Do you agree with Wilde’s message about women? Why or why not?
15. What reference to food is there at the end of Act II? How does it compare to the reference to cucumber sandwiches from Act I?