Title: The Importance of Being Earnest
Author: Oscar Wilde
Setting: Begins in a flat in London then proceeds to a manor house in the countryside in the late 1800’s.
Plot: Two men, John Jack Earnest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, use the deception a Bunbury that both their names were Ernest, in order to secure marriage to the women they love, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Then there is the ultimate unraveling of their lies, which still ends in their impending nuptials.
Cast of Key Characters
John Jack Ernest Worthing
“Bon-vivant” Jack to Algernon 2 Algernon is asking Jack what brought him to town. Jack has come to town to get away from his responsibilities in the country, his ward Cecily, and to see Gwendolen, whom he wishes to propose marriage. In order to do this he has committed the Bunbury that he has come to see his brother, Ernest, who doesn’t exist. He wishes to enjoy the pleasures before attending to his guardian duties. Quote: “When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.”
“Curmudgeon” Jack to Algernon 3 Jack has come to propose to Gwendolen. Which is the express reason behind his lying about his name being Ernest. Algy feels that is business not pleasure. Jack thinks it is utterly unromantic. Algernon says he will forget about romance when he is married. Though Algy doesn’t know it yet when he sees Cecily he will shed this view. Jack feels that the view Algernon has, others do also and that is what causes the dissolution process to be born. Jack is generalizing his cynical view of unromantic people. Quote: “The divorce court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.”
“Architect” Jack to Algy 3 Algy has said it is distasteful the way Gwendolen and Jack flirt with each other. This prompts Jack to state his romantic intentions toward Gwendolen. Jack has a specific goal, which is to marry Gwendolen. This is his sole purpose for coming to town. Jack is so intent on marrying Gwendolen he has created a bunbury, the phantom brother Ernest, in order to see her. He also lies that his name is Ernest. Quote: “I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come to town expressly to propose to her.”
“Conniver” Jack to Algernon 4 Algernon is trying to found why there is an inscription of the name Cecily on Jacks lighter. Jack creates the lie that Cecily is his aunt when in actuality she is his ward. The lie beings to unravel here because Algernon continues to question Jack. This is Jack’s Bunbury to Algy and there are many more to come. Jack hopes that this lie will discourage any further pursuit of his true relation, guardian, to Cecily. Quote: “Well if you want to know Cecily happens to be my aunt.”
“Critic” Jack to Algernon 6 Jack has been trying to satisfy Algy’s fanatic questioning for the explanation of the inscription on Jack’s cigarette case. Jack has said that he is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. Jack is not named Ernest. It is a phantom brother he has invented. Jack is going to explain his reason for lying in order to come to town, but he doesn’t believe Algernon has a somber personality to comprehend his reasons. Quote: “My dear Algy, I don’t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives. You are hardly serious enough.”
“Martyr” Jack to Algy 6 Algy has returned the cigarette case to Jack; now, he wishes to hear the reason Jack is Ernest in town and Jack in the country. Jack shows his bunbury to Algy. Jack is Cecily’s guardian that is why he is Jack in the country. In order to come to town he has invented a wayward brother named Ernest. Jack explains his reasons for lying about who Cecily really is and who he is to Cecily. He is essentially her immediate forebear and must keep up social standards. It is his responsibility to guard against any degrading of her values. Jack makes sacrifices to be Cecily’s protector. One of his sacrifices is that he must lie