Act I, page 10


           don’t talk.  But I'll run over the program I've drawn out, if you will kindly come into the next room for a moment.

LADY BRACKNELL. Thank you, Algernon. It is very thoughtful of you.  I'm sure the program will be delightful, after a few expurgations. French songs I cannot possibly allow.  People always seem to think they are improper, and I’ll look shocked , which is vulgar, or laugh, which is worse.  But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language, and indeed, I believe, is so.  Gwendoline, you will follow.

GWENDOLINE. Certainly, Mamma.

(LADY BRACKNELL exits with ALGY, leaving door open.)

JACK.    Charming day it has been, Miss Fairfax.

GWENDOLINE. Pray don't talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else; and that makes me so nervous.

JACK.    I do mean something else.

GWENDOLINE. I thought so, in fact, I’m never wrong.

JACK.    And I would like to be allowed to take advantage of Lady Bracknell's temporary absence.

GWENDOLINE. I would certainly advise you to do so. Mamma has a way of coming back suddenly into a room that I have had to speak to her about.

JACK.    (Crosses to door, shuts it, and returns to GWENDOLINE) Miss Fairfax, ever since I met you I have admired you more than any girl I have ever met since I met you.

GWENDOLINE. Yes; I am quite well aware of that fact. And I often wish that in public, at any rate, you had been more demonstrative! For me, you have always had an irresistible fascination. Even before I met you I was far from indifferent to you! (JACK looks at her in amazement.) We live, as I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial pulpits, I’m told.  And my ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest!  There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence. The moment Algernon first mentioned to me that he had a friend called Ernest, I knew I was destined to love you. 

JACK.    You really love me, Gwendoline?

GWENDOLINE. Passionately!

JACK.    Darling! You don't know how happy you've made me.

GWENDOLINE. My own Ernest! (Embracing JACK.)

JACK.    Of course. But you don't really mean to say at you couldn't love me if my name wasn't Ernest?

GWENDOLINE. But your name is Ernest. (Releases him.)

JACK.    Yes, I know it is. But supposing it was something else? Do you mean to say you couldn't love me then?

GWENDOLINE. Oh, that is clearly a metaphysical speculation, and like all metaphysical speculations has very little reference at all to the actual facts of life, as we know them.

Rob Storrs