Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Education now and then

Lady Bracknell is questioning Mr. Jack Worthing, who just proposed to her daughter Gwendolen. She writes down with a pencil on her note-book all the answers Jack gives her.

Lady Bracknell. [Pencil and note-book in hand.] I feel bound to
tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men,
although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. We
work together, in fact. However, I am quite ready to enter your
name, should your answers be what a really affectionate mother
requires. Do you smoke?

Jack. Well, yes, I must admit I smoke.

Lady Bracknell. I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an
occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in London
as it is. How old are you?

Jack. Twenty-nine.

Lady Bracknell. A very good age to be married at. I have always
been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know
either everything or nothing. Which do you know?

Jack. [After some hesitation.] I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.

Lady Bracknell. I am pleased to hear it. 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. If
it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and
probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. 

The importance of being Ernest, Oscar Wilde (1895)

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