Two men are in love with women who think they are both named Ernest Worthing. Neither must let the other man find out. When the women discover it themselves, chaos ensues!
A man kisses a woman twice (No description.) She runs her hands through his hair.
Men embrace two women and kiss their cheeks.
A woman is described as falling into a man's arms.
Their is insinuation of illegitimacy. A man calls a woman "mother." She exclaims, "I am unmarried!" He says he forgives her. (She is not his mother after all.)
A woman says, "I intend to develop in all directions" to a man.
A man and woman, who are in love, are described as flirting with each other.
A man says, "The way to behave to a woman is to make love to her if she is pretty, or to another if she is plain."
A woman says, "I may marry, and marry often, but will always be devoted to you."
A man says, "If she were my tutor, I would hang upon her lips." (He is then embarrassed and explains it is only an analogy.)
A man announces that his imaginary brother has died of a severe chill.
Another man says he kills his imaginary friend and then claims he "exploded." A woman takes that to mean he died in a political revolutionary excursion.
Christian Principles: None
The entire book, which is really written as a script, is meant to be a comedy. The worldview is quite off from Biblical principles, but the whole thing is supposed to be entirely humorous. The critic doubts that anyone over the age of twelve would take it seriously, but if you feel that your child would believe the self-proclaimed nonsense that is spoken, then he might be too young for this book.
Both of the main characters, Algernon and Jack, make up fake people as excuses to go where they like and do what they like, which is mainly spending time in town or avoiding odious dinner engagements. Jack is devoted to, and claims he only ever loved, Miss Gwendolyn Fairfax, who goes behind her mother's back to become engaged to the man she thinks is named Ernest - whom she loves almost entirely for his name, which she thinks is almost magical. Little Cecily, Jack's ward, lives a bored and tedious life of schoolwork and gardening, and is infatuated with the imaginary brother Ernest that Jack made up. Both women are silly and easily in love and it's all a bit funny. The men's lies are found out, of course, and they "put to death" their false identities to please their loves.
Gwendolyn's mother has some of the strangest notions. She says things like, "I believe in a short engagement so one does not find out the other's character before marriage," and that "Smoking is a good occupation," (Although, keep in mind, the physical dangers of smoking had not been discovered at this time), "He should make up his mind to die or live so he does not mess up my dinner parties," as well as "It is style that matters, not sincerity."
Cecily is vain and childish, liking to be looked at, thinking there is good in everyone, and making up a fake romance between herself and her ward's "wicked brother Ernest" before she even met him, even going so far as to write herself fake love notes.
Baptism is portrayed as merely a way to name a child by christening him. Baptising adults is looked at as irreligious and nonsensical.
Algernon says a lot of things against marriage and people, like: "Things were meant to be argued," "There are so many fools about," and "Divorces are made in heaven," but he soon renounces some of his bitter ideas on life when he falls in love with Cecily. Jack always responds to Algernon's statement with an exclamation of, "Nonsense! You always talk nothing but nonsense!"
Algernon drinks an entire pint of alcohol and it is said that single men have more need of champagne.