Best 18 Quotes From Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Reading on the iPad in Berlin

You want to write well and never run out of ideas? You want to be inspired, entertained, left in awe and wonder of beauty and learn something at the same time? You want to improve your vocabulary and enhance the use of your English (or other) language? You want to keep your mind sharp and active?

Read a timeless classic!

There is a reason that a classic endures beyond the life of the author and past the turn of century after century. There is a reason that a classic will never go “out of style” and every generation will still be able to pick it up, and appreciate it to some level, whatever their education level may be.

These are great reasons that push me to pick up a classic, even in my most preoccupied state of mind, in between projects and product launches and blog posts, and feel compelled to finish it. Truth be told, a part of me is still making up for lost time during years of school and work, where I traded in my love of the arts and the literature for the practical side of life.

Oh how many books I could have read by now! How many pages I could have devoured! How many gems I could have stored in the depth of my heart by today!

Alas, what’s done is done. It is best to leave the past where it belongs and make up for lost time now, rather than lose even more of this precious commodity by looking back. Just do yourself a favor and pick up a classic to “reboot your system” with purity of the language.

The obvious problem with the classics is this of course: the more classics you read, the more you crave them, just like my addictive and mouth-watering raw vegan brownie. All good things have to be done in moderation, they say. So here are a few golden nuggets from my recent indulgence of Oscar Wilde’s witty, fun, original, and rhythmical play, “The Importance of Being Earnest”.

Reading is the best pastime for the mind! See more book reviews here: In Print.

Every phrase and expression is a thought worth enjoying and applying to our life today. The play on words, the glittering conversation, the unexpected turn of phrases, it’s deliciously clever and a classic it remains forever. I’ve made a note of catching the play someday!

My top 18 quotes from Oscar Wilde’s play:

You must read the play – it’s only 3 acts – and you probably will after reading these quotes below. I picked some for the humor, some the irony, some the truth and some the shock and others for pure delight in the expression of how I wish English were still spoken today.

  1. I don’t play accurately–any one can play accurately–but I play with wonderful expression.
  2. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.
  3. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public.
  4. I have always been of the opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?
  5. Relations are simply tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.
  6. All women become like their mother. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.
  7. I am not in favor of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment’s notice. As a man sows so let him reap.
  8. I should have remembered that when one is going to lead an entirely new life, one requires regular and wholesome meals.
  9. My duty as a gentleman has never interfered with my pleasures in the smallest degree.
  10. It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable.
  11. One must be serious about something, if one wants to have any amusement in life.
  12. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.
  13. I never go without my dinner. No one ever does, except vegetarians and people like that.
  14. How absurd to talk of the equality of the sexes! Where questions of self-sacrifice are concerned, men are infinitely beyond us.
  15. To speak frankly, I am not in favor of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.
  16. You are perfectly right in making some slight alteration. Indeed, no woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. 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.
  17. It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth.
  18. I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.

Is it just me who can find enduring amusement, deep appreciation
and plenty of pause for reflection from reading this play?

What is the last thing you read that left you wanting more?
Do share your brilliant thoughts in the comments below
and read more classics!

  • sadli

    Hi Farnoosh. Great quote from classic.
    I want to share great quote from Kurt Cobain here. Can I?
    He said..”Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with with your self esteem. ”


    • Farnoosh

      Hi Sadli, yes, you can share quotes – although I don’t see any relevance to the classics on your quote. No kidding: drugs are very very bad all around. You can’t say that too many times, and I do *not* speak of experience, only of logic. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Armen Shirvanian

    Hi Farnoosh.

    You are full of energy. We need more people like you but maybe you make up for them. These classics sure are tough to get into when you didn’t read them long ago and always pass them in the bookstores and tell yourself you will read them one day, but you actually do read them. Hey you said 31 quotes at the end of this article and then listed 18. Are you trying to trick us?

    Quote 11 is cool because, if we aren’t serious about something, then people will think we have no foundation we are building. We want to see others stand tall and you can’t do that unless you are serious about something. Here is John Carmack’s serious face while he was programming, and he is probably the top game programmer in the world: John Carmack working.

    For your question at the end, “Is it just me who can find enduring amusement, deep appreciation and plenty of pause for reflection from reading this play?”, it is mostly you and a small group of people. Few people read much and then fewer get much out of what they are reading, but I am sure a couple others are in your boat. That is good.

    I hope you enjoy my comment like I enjoy your article presentation.

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Armen, I without a shadow of a doubt enjoy all of your comments, thank you. Oh yes, I thought I might have 31 at first but then changed my mind. Corrected my typo, thanks for keeping an eye out for me. And sigh, so then it is just me then or very few others that read the classics? Have you read this play? It may be harder than some other books but it is so worth the read. I can’t even count all the benefits of reading a classic. Anyway, thank you for dropping by and giving me a big smile with your warmth and kindness, Armen.

  • Grady Pruitt

    After seeing some of your quotes here, have to check out this book. I’ve been reading some classics myself, such as Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I also have the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer in my list of things to read soon.

    I found number four to be very amusing. Sometimes it’s the way I feel.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Grady, so nice to see you again!! You know, I read it for FREE. It is part of public domain and I have an iPhone and several apps have the classics for free. If you are interested, just let me know. And boy, those are TOUGH reads. I am looking at my own copy of Homer’s book and it’s been on my shelf for years now. At least, I am delighted to hear you keep the classics on your list too. Glad you enjoyed this post and thank you again for stopping by.

  • Grady Pruitt

    I’ve got the Kindle app on my smartphone (one of the first and most used on my phone 😉 That’s where I have my classics I’ve been reading. Found some other interesting reads there as well. For example, I have also read Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, as well as some other classics more towards the financial/self help area such as Ben Franklin’s autobiography, PT Barnum’s Art of Money Getting, James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh and Arnold Bennett’s How to Live on 24 Hours a Day.

    (And that’s just the free ones I’ve read so far since May!)

    I’ll probably be after the new year before I can get to it, since I’m in the middle of about 4 others, in November, I don’t read much since I’m writing so much (for NaNoWriMo), and December has the annual read of some of Dicken’s classics such as A Christmas Carol and a couple of his other, minor, Christmas/New Year works. Not to mention the two I already have on deck to read (and besides those, I have 3 or 4 PDF formatted ebooks on my computer as well as 3 or 4 physical books I’m still trying to get through as well). I read a lot, in case you couldn’t tell…

    In fact, I spend at least an hour or 2 a day (if not more) and go through 4 or 5 (or more) books a month. Would read more if I had the time even 😀 (Maybe someday 😉

    Anyway, I’ve taken to alternating between a more recent work and a classic work for my fiction reading. I think the classics are great to read because of the wonderful language, not to mention the “still relevant” topics. I probably have 300 on my TBR list — and that’s just the fiction!

    Look forward to reading more of your posts and seeing you around!

    • Farnoosh

      Grady, I have now picked up my jaw from the floor and can form a semi-intelligent response to your avid reading list and habit. :) So impressive. So Anna K is one of my all-time favorites. Here’s my review of Tolstoy’s masterpiece. I mus say Dickens is very hard to read. Very. I may give him another try. It is fantastic that you read so much. Do you keep track? I do a book review and draw life lessons on a blog post for each book …. Do you have at least your reading list online somewhere? Keep it up and it’s wonderful to have you here adding so much to this conversation. Thank you, Grady!

  • Tracey Grady

    Like you, I’ve been making an effort to catch up on reading some literature classics in recent times.

    I am a fan of Oscar Wilde, too, and I love using quotes from him in my trivia quiz questions because he has a fairly universal appeal.

    Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? There is plenty to reflect upon there about shallow appreciation of beauty, narcissism and ageing.

    • Farnoosh

      Hi Tracey, thank you for stopping by! It’s wonderful to keep Oscar Wilde’s writing going strong, so nice of you to use it. No, I haven’t. Should I? I know that’s another one of his. I’ll go for it for sure once I get through my giant list ;), thanks Tracey!

      • Tracey Grady

        Yes I would recommend The Picture of Dorian Gray. It’s a fairly short read too, which should be helpful when you have a giant list of books to get through!

        • Farnoosh

          Tracey, how late for me to reply and say thank you – I am going to read The Picture of Dorian Gray, based on your recommendation! :)

  • Rochelle

    I love Oscar Wilde. His quotes are so inspiring. This made my day!

    • Farnoosh

      Dear Rochelle, so glad you enjoyed Oscar Wilde’s quotes! Thanks for your words!

  • Negar

    I definitely need to read more classics! I read so many fashion magazines in 2011 – nothing wrong with them – they are fun to read and very informative – but I can’t believe I let a whole year pass just devouring magazines. 2012 I need to dive back into books! Good news you might be interested to hear – Pedram has been reading many classics lately! At least one of us are getting our fair share, ehhh? 😉

    • Farnoosh

      Magazines? Oh dear! Hope they are bride magazines in which case you may get a little of sympathy ;)!! What is that brother of yours up to? Love that he is reading classics. I hope you start reading more books. You won’t look at a magazine after a classic, Negar! :)

      • Negar

        I actually haven’t read any bridal magazines! =P I read Glamour, Vogue, Marie Claire, etc. =) I do need to read more classics, though!! You are right. Pedram is enjoying his winter break right now. He is not teaching a winter term so he gets to relax (for the most part) till February! He and Pouneh came in for a brief visit this past weekend. It was very fun to see them!

        • Farnoosh

          You are allowed to read what you love, sweet thing! I was giving you a semi-hard time …. but you have all my recommendations on what classics to read on my blog. And so glad your brother and sister-in-law are doing well. How fun!

  • Tom Sorhannus

    Just dropping by to say Thank you! You have made my day a bit brighter :-)

    I was in to Shakespeare a couple of years back. He is also a real artist when it comes to the use of language.

    • Farnoosh

      Boo! My fastest turnaround on comments ever: Hi dearest Tom how are you? And you are most welcome. I love Shakespeare even if most of it goes over my head ;))!

  • Tom Sorhannus

    I´m fine thank you!

    I´ve been a bit slow coming around your blog lately. Need to come here more often. It´s always a pleasure! Keep going :-)

    • Farnoosh

      Pleasure is mine. Great to see you again, and so glad that you enjoy the blog, Tom. Thanks for saying hello! :)

  • Carson Eakles

    I posted this on my facebook web page and bought myself a second copy for fantastic measure. Thanks for putting this book bomb togetherI hope it will likely be successful!

    • Farnoosh

      Glad to hear it, Carson. This is a true classic, enjoy it.