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A Continuation of The Importance of Being Earnest

Act 4, Scene 1

Christmastime. Dining room in the Manor House. Curtain opens on Algernon and Ernest sitting at the
supper table, dressed in moderately formal suits.

Algernon: [Cocking an eyebrow in Ernest’s direction] My brother, are you prepared for dinner?

Ernest: [Laughing quietly to himself] Of course, why wouldn’t I be? I’ve found my long-lost brother,
married a lovely young lady, and now we’re all having a delightful dinner together. Better yet, Aunt
Augusta won’t be here, which means we can all be ourselves tonight.

Algernon: Can we really?

Ernest: Really what?

Algernon: Really be ourselves tonight.

Ernest: [Waves hand dismissingly] Why wouldn’t we be? You are Algernon Moncrieff, and I’m Ja-…
er…Ernest Moncrieff. Huh. I see. I’m rather used to being Jack out here, it’s somewhat threaded into my
being, what with my previous Bunburying and all.

Algernon: [Rolls his eyes] You raise a fine point brother, but what I really meant was can I be myself
tonight. As in, can I have a generous portion of wine without being scolded by my superior older
brother? [Looks at Ernest accusingly]

Ernest: Don’t look at me like that; it’s not my fault you carried on for half the evening with my umbrella
stand last week, and got me in trouble with Gwendolen for being a poor example to my younger brother!

Algernon: Well, if you would let me have access to your private stores more often, I wouldn’t be
encouraged to overindulge myself when I do have wine. Besides, Laurel and I had a lovely discussion.

Ernest: [Looks confused] Laurel? Who in God’s name is…oh. [Throws hands up in exasperation]
Great, now you’ve gone and named my umbrella stand. Don’t you know that Laurel is a silly name?

Algernon: That’s just like you, Ernest, judging the company I keep. [Turns smug] For your information,
Cecily happens to like the name Laurel.

[Ernest leans over the table and grabs Algernon’s collar.]

Ernest: Now you see here, you dreadfully-

Gwendolen and Cecily enter, wearing beautiful evening dresses, delightedly discussing something in
hushed tones. Ernest quickly starts to correct Algernon’s collar, as if fixing it.
Ernest: -dashing brother of mine! You can have as much wine as you want, because what’s mine is
yours, as of course you already knew. [Smiles falsely, glancing at the two women]

Gwendolen: [Kisses Ernest’s cheek cutely] Why, Ernest dear, that’s so very giving of you. You are such
a darling.

[Cecily and Algernon share a conspicuous wink]

Cecily: That is very generous of you, Uncle Jack. Algy is so lucky to have a brother like you.

[Algernon looks at Ernest with a loving look, and receives a wry look in return]

Algernon: Cecily is quite right. It is indeed fortunate that we are brothers.

Ernest: Yes. Fortunate. Exactly the word I would choose.

[Both Ernest and Algernon get up and pull out the chairs for the girls. Cecily chuckles slightly]

Gwendolen: My, this is a lovely surprise, wouldn’t you agree?

Cecily: [Smiles broadly] Yes, it most certainly is, sister.

[Algernon suddenly looks smug, and a similar grin occupies Ernest’s face. Gwendolen looks to Cecily,
and they share a look of puzzlement]

Gwendolen: What have you two done?

Cecily: Yes, what has you two looking so mighty?

Ernest: We are having dinner tonight, aren’t we, my love?

Gwendolen: [Cautious] I was under the impression we were, yes.

Algernon: Darling, you and Gwendolen wanted a treat for Christmas, yes?

Cecily: [Excited] Yes, we did want something special.

Algernon: Well, we decided to give the cooks a break for the evening...

Ernest: And we cooked the meal by ourselves while you two were in town!

[Cecily squeals with joy, and Gwendolen looks impressed]

Gwendolen: That’s quite an accomplished feat. It must have taken you many hours to put together a full
meal.
Ernest: We did spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen. The experience was thoroughly enjoyable, all
things considered.

[Algernon sighs slightly]

Cecily: All things considered?

[Algernon looks at Ernest warningly, who smiles back victoriously]

Ernest: Algy here was sincerely convinced that cucumber sandwiches and muffins would constitute a
full meal-

Gwendolen: Oh dear, those two are such an unfashionable pair.

Ernest: -which led to a slight…well…altercation over the food that we would serve.

[Gwendolen and Cecily look at each other, showing no surprise, and Algernon and Ernest share a
sheepish grin]

[Enter Merriman.]

Merriman: Sir, the mess is finally tidied up, and the dinner is unharmed.

Ernest: Thank you, Merriman. That will be all.

Merriman: Of course sir. [Bows and leaves]

Algernon: Are we ready to bring out the dinner, then?

Ernest: Yes, I do believe we are.

[Cecily looks ecstatic, Gwendolen seems anticipatory, Ernest and Algernon move into the kitchen for a
few minutes, and appear with two steaming plates of fish and chips.]

Cecily: Fish and…

Gwendolen: …chips…?

[The girl’s faces become clearly crestfallen, as disappointment sinks in. Merriman enters with Italian
bread and butter, and a bottle of white wine, sets it down and leaves.]

Algernon: The wine adds class, wouldn’t you agree?

Ernest: Absolutely. [Notices that the women are upset.] Now you two must understand that my dear
brother and I don’t cook dishes very often…

Algernon: [Raises eyebrow] You mean ever?


Ernest: Erm…yes. [Shrugs shoulders sadly] We never cook. You have to see that we tried our best.

[Cecily cheers up considerably as she notices how expectant the men look.]

Cecily: I’m sure that you two worked very hard to prepare our supper this evening. Thank you very
much for your…effort. [Eyes the food warily, then glares at Gwendolen]

Gwendolen: Dear, couldn’t you have kept the cooks- [Cecily kicks her under the dining table, and she
gasps, catches herself] –away before now, in order to give us [Pauses] more opportunity to enjoy your
culinary skill?

[Ernest and Algernon smile proudly as they shake each hands. They take their respective seats next to
their wives.]

Ernest: Shall we do the honors, brother?

Algernon: We shall indeed.

[They pile their wives plates with fish and chips, buttered bread, and fill their wine glasses delicately]

Cecily & Gwendolen: Why thank you, but we’re not that-

Ernest & Algernon: Don’t worry, there’s plenty for everyone.

[Cecily and Gwendolen fall silent]

Ernest: Here, Algy, enjoy some wine. [Pours a glass for Algernon]

Algernon: Why thank you, here’s some for you too. [Fills Ernest’s glass unnecessarily full, Ernest
downs it in one gulp] That’s the spirit!

[The meal begins, and Cecily and Gwendolen start to eat the food cautiously. Algernon and Ernest eat
some of their food, but filling themselves more with wine]

Cecily: Gwen! Have you tried this fish? It’s absolutely splendid!

Algernon: [Slurs words] I cooked that all by myself! With a cookbook’s help, maybe…[trails off]

Gwendolen: Yes, yes, the fish is lovely, but these chips are to die for, and so stylish!

Ernest: [Slurs worse than Algernon] Yesh, they are oh-so-very stylish, for I designed them! [Takes a
bow, stumbles, falls, pulls Algernon down with him. The two men laugh and get up, and move to the
piano] Brother me, accompany!
Algernon: [Sits down, cracks his knuckles like a maestro] It would be my pleasure! [He starts to play a
jaunty tune as Ernest sings along slightly out of tune]
[As the evening continues on, Gwendolen and Cecily finish their plates and start stealing slight amounts
from their husbands’, and the men laugh boisterously, and accost Merriman]

Ernest: Has Laurel arrived yet?

Algernon: He did promise to be here at 8:00 sharp.

Merriman: [Not missing a beat] Master Laurel has just arrived, as a matter fact, I shall escort him in.
[Bows, leaves, returns with an umbrella stand] Here he is, sir.

[Algernon and Ernest begin talking to the umbrella stand, oblivious to their wives, who laugh
uncontrollably at their antics.]

Ernest: And so I tell the poor fool that he should start an occupation playing piano professionally! Can
you believe it?

Algernon: Wait, that’s what you said to me last Wednesday!

Ernest: I know! [Bursts into raucous laughter, Algernon joins in, and the hug and clap each other on the
back, knocking over the umbrella stand] Laurel, are you quite all right? Laurel? Oh well.

[The evening comes to a close as Merriman puts the umbrella stand away, and the dishes are moved to
the kitchen]

Algernon: Come dear…[hiccups]…it’s time for bed. Algy’s tired and desires rest. [Leans on
Gwendolen]

Ernest: My lo-[burps]…excuse me. My love, I need to lie down. [Puts arm around Cecily]

[Cecily and Gwendolen roll their eyes at each other and switch their husbands back proper]

Gwendolen: Good night, Cecily, I will see you tomorrow morning, in time for tea and cake?

Cecily: Cake? Oh, yes. Of course. Good night. [Exit Gwendolen and Ernest] Sleep well, Merriman,
and be sure not to draw the curtains tomorrow, for I fear it will make Algy and Ernest very upset.
[Algernon mumbles an affirmative]

Merriman: Yes, ma’am, I do believe it would disturb them. I trust I should turn down the sun as well?

Cecily: [Smiles] That would be quite the feat, Merriman. I would most definitely suggest a raise to
Uncle Jack if you did.

Merriman: Thank you ma’am. Have a nice sleep. [Exit Cecily and Ernest, curtain closes on Merriman
cleaning up the evening’s mess]
Act 4 Questions:
1. What symbols were present in the play, and what do they represent?

The umbrella stand can be seen to represent brotherly love, the muffins and cucumber sandwiches
could be Algernon’s old selfish ways, and the fish and chips could represent family unity.

2. Why did Ernest let Algernon overindulge in wine after all?

Ernest finally understood that he needed to let loose and have fun with his new family, and in family,
there is no such thing as stinginess. Ernest even joined in willingly.

3. Why did Cecily and Gwendolen accept the gift of fish and chips?

Well, first off, love comes before class. No matter one’s standing, their care over loved ones must
come first. It’s the thought that counts, anyway. Besides, the meal turned out to be delicious.

4. Do you believe that the men acted inappropriately?

No, I feel that the men as well as their wives were enjoying the non-oppressive atmosphere (Lady
Bracknell’s absence), and carried on in an informal matter, like a true family should.

5. What would you say was going through Merriman’s mind at the end of the scene?

I would say that he was feeling pretty content at cleaning up after a happy get together, versus a
proper, snobby party, and enjoying the familiar aura that surrounds the two young couples. He most
likely felt right at home.