Saturday, 28 May 2016


I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. 

I do not approve .......... no effect whatsoever.

(i) Drama: The Importance of Being Earnest
(ii) Dramatist: Oscar Wilde
(i) Occurrence: Act 1
(ii) Content: Jack and Algernon are wealthy gentlemen. Jack lives in the country and Algernon dwells in London. Algernon visits Jack's house and introduces to Jack's young ward Cecily as Ernest, the assumed named of Jack. Shortly after, Jack arrives home announcing Ernest's death. Cecily and Gwendolen have a genteel stand-off over which of that has a prior claim on "Ernest". Jack and Algernon vie to be christened Ernest. Eventually, Jack discovers that his parents were Lady Bracknell's sister and brother-in-law and that he is Algernon's older brother, called Ernest. Algernon/Cecily, Jack/Gwendolen and Chasuble/Prism fall into each other's arms as Jack realizes the importance of being earnest. 
     In these lines Lady Bracknell thinks of ignorance as a virtue of the rich. She speaks these lines as a part of her inquiry into Jack's suitability for marriage with her daughter Gwendolen. She has just told him she believes that a man who wants to marry should know everything or nothing, and Jack, sensing the trap, has said he knows nothing. Lady Bracknell greets the news with complacency and says only, "I am pleased to hear it". She is, in fact, against anything that can cause damage to "natural ignorance". "Anything" here means "modern education"; the biggest rival of ignorance. Her statement "Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit" is a beautiful simile. Many exotic flowers and plants are delicate, if we touch them, the petals or leaves fall off. Ignorance is the same; a touch of knowledge destroys it. "Education produces no effect" is a paradox to explain that, in the upper classes, education is worthless. The typical upper class Victorian was notorious for being "sent down" of the major university of Oxford or Cambridge. Being "sent down" was almost a trademark of the upper-class dandy. In short, Lady Bracknell, in these lines, embodies the mind-bogging stupidity of the British aristocracy.

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