the importance of being earnest (summary and questions)

The Importance of being Earnest Characters John “Jace Worthing (Earnest): A responsible, respectable man leading a double life.

In Hertfordshire he is Jack and pretends to have a younger brother Earnest but in London he is earnest. He doesn’t feel at home in an aristocratic society. As a baby he was found in a handbag in a cloakroom of Victoria station by an old man who adopted him and made Jack the guardian to his granddaughter Cecily cardew. He is in love with his friend Algernon’s Cousin Gwendolyn Fairfax Algernon Moncrieff: A charming, idle, decorative bachelor.Nephew of lady bracknell. Cousin of Gwendolyn. Jacks best friend whom he has known for years as earnest. He has a fictional friend Bunbury.

Hes always making excuses to go see him so ge can get out of unwanted social obligations Lady Bracknell ( Aunt Augusta): blocking both marriages. She doesn’t want Gwendolyn to marry Jack because he is an orphan. She didn’t like Cecily as a mate for her nephew Algernon until she realized she is wealthy.

She is snobbish and values ignorance Gwendolyn Fairfax: Lady Bracknell’s daughter. Algernon’s cousin.Jack likes her and she likes him back(as earnest). She’s selfcentered, ophisticated and flighty.

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Se desires nothing but to marry someone named earnest. Cecily Cardrew: Jack tlooks after her. Granddaughter of the man who foun and adopted Jack as a baby. She is also obsessed with the name earnest. She is intruiged by the idea of wickedness. She has fallen n love with Jacks brother earnest in her imagination from what he tells her about him.

Algernon likes her so he pretends to be Earnest. She only wants to marry a man with the name Earnest.Lane and Merriman: Algernon and Jacks butlers Miss prism: cecileys governess. She loves the priest chasuble who comes by often to ee her. She approves of Jacks assumed respectability and disapproves of his “unfortunate brother’ Summary Algernon Moncrieffs butler arranges tea for Lady Bracknell’s arrival.

He discusses marriage and algenon tells the bulter it is demoralizing then dismisses him. Then ernest worthing comes in who has Just returned from the country. Algernon tells Jack that his aunt and cousin Gwendolyn are coming for tea.

Jack says hes going to propose to Gwendolyn.Algernon says in order to marry his cousin he must first clear up the issue of Cecily. He brings Jacks cigarette case which says “from little Cecily ith her fondest love to her dear uncle Jack” he then has to explain to Algernon how he is Jack in the country and Ernest in town and that he made up earnest as a little brother who is always getting into trouble so he has a good excuse to go into town so as to set a good example for Cecily. Algernon confesses that he, too has a made up friend called Bunbury who he uses as an excuse to get into town.

When lady Bracknell and Gwendolyn arrive, Algernon is shocked that theres no cucumber sandwiches left. He told lady bracknell that he cant attend her dinner tonight because bunbury is unwell. He goes into the music room who him and Jack and especially because she has always wanted to marry somsone named earnest. He asks her if she would still love him if his name wasn’t earnest and she said no. He propose and she accepted. When her mother comes in, Gwendolyn tells her that shes engaged. Her mother says only she or gwendolyn’s father can get her engaged and she tells her to wait in the carriage.

She interrogates Jack and when she fldns out hes an orphan she says she wont allow him to amrry her daughter. Later, Jack tells Algernon what happened and says he will kill off his brother earnest. Gwendolyn comes back in and tells Jack that her mother wont let them marry.

She asks for his address and promised to write to him daily when he returned to the countryside. Algernon starts to show some anxiety over bunbury and Jack warns him that bunbury will only get him in trouble. Cecilys governess is trying to interest her in her german lesson but she would much rather water the flowers.Miss prism reminds her that he uncle Jack encourages her to be the best she can be. Cecily gets angry that her uncle jack is always so serious and Miss prism reminds her how he’s constantly worrying ver his troublesome brother Ernest. Cecily tsrats to write in her diary about how she wishes that Jack would allow ernest to visit them sometime.

She thought that she and miss prism could have a positive effect on him but ms prism doesn’t believe in the notion of turning bad people into good people.Miss prism and chausible go off on a walk then and the butler comes in and says that ernest worthing has come over. It is actually Algernon. He greets Cecily as his little cousin. When Cecily tells Algernon that jack wont be back until Monday.

She tells him that Jack has gone to get earnest some ew clotges because he is going to send him off to Australia for good. Algernon tells Cecily to change his mind but she says she doesn’t have time so he decides to do it himself later. Him and Cecily flirt all the way back to the house to look for food.Miss Prism and Dr. Chausable return from their walk and were also flirting mildly.

Jack shows up and announces that Ernest died from a chill. Jack asks chausable if he could be christened ernest (so that Gwendolyn would marry him) and he said sure thing bro we’ll do it this afternoon. As Chausable was about to leave, Cecily comes out f the house and says that uncle Jacks ‘brother’ is here in the dining room When Algernon shows up, Jack is pissed to see him there disguised as Jacks own invention who was actually supposed to be dead.Cecily thinks Jacks anger is because of the brothers’ ill feelings towards each other. Alg tells Cecily about bunbury but Jack doesn’t say anything against it because he doesn’t want to seem like a hypocrite. Alg later proposes to Cecily and she admits the made up relationship between them in her head made her imagine them as already engaged.

He gets a bit annoyed when e hears that she likes him mostly because his name is earnest which (like gwen says) inspires absolute confidence. Alg goes to get himself christened as earnest.Gwen shoes up at the manor and meets Cecily and they both start talking. Ceily tells gwen that she is being taken care of by mr Worthing. Gwen gets annoyed and says earnest never told her he had a ward. Cecily says her guardian is not ernest worthing but her uncle Jack. Cecily asks her if shes sure and Cecily says ofcourse because she is engaged to earnest worthing.

Gwen points out that that’s impossible because shes engaged to earnest worthing. They get into a fight. Meanwhile, Jack and Algernon both make separate arrangements to be christened earnest.When they arrive to the theyre really engaged to and Jack is forced to tell them that theres no earnest. The two women are pissed and go hanfd in hand back to the manor calling each other sisters and Jack and Algernon taunt each other about being caught and end up squabbling over muffins and teacake The girls talk to the boys and ask why they pretended all that. They say it was for the girls’ sake and they are about to forgive them until they remember that neither of them is getting engaged to a man named earnest.

Then the men point out that theyre both getting christened earnest.And both women get happy over the self sacrifice the men are committing. Lady bracknell comes in and sees alhgernon and asks him where bunbury is because she thought Algernon went to go see his sick friend. algernon says that bunbury is dead and lady bracknell is introduced to Cecily and she is interestedin Cecily because of how ealthy she is. Jack refuses to let Cecily marry Algernon ntil lady bracknell lets him marry gwen. Lady bracknell rfuses and dr hausable comes and says that the christenings are ready but the men suggest they be postponed.

Dr cahusable says okay and wants to leave because ms prism is waiting for him. At the sound of that name, lady bracknell asks a bunch of questions about her and then miss prism herself arrives. Ms prism gets scared when she sees lady bracknell. Bracknell asks prism where that baby is who she was supposed to have taken for a walk 28 years ago. Ms prism had left a house with a babhy carriage containing a baby boy and never returned. The carriage was found weeks later in bayswater containing a three volume novel of more than usually revolting sentimentality and the baby was never found.She explained that she had a manuscript with her that day and mJst have conflused the baby and the manuscript and placed the manuscript in the carriage and the baby in the handbag and left the handbag at some railway station. he goes and gets the handbag he was found in and shows it to her and she realizes that it was the bag that she had misplaced.

]ack thought she was his mom and hugged her but she reminded him that shes not married. Lady brackwell then admits that Jack is the son of her poor sister so he’s algernon’s older brother. Jack finds out his real name is actually earnest named fter his father.And he DOES in fact have a mischievous younger brother: Algernon. Jack and gwen , chausable and ms prism, and Algernon and Cecily all embrace and jack acknowledges that he has discovered the vital importance of being earnest Questions: 1) Explain the meaning of Ernest/Earnest and the play on words involved in the title and the plays themes. The literal meaning of earnest is showing intense honesty and seriousness; a man acting with earnest would be acting with purposeful and sincere intent. In the play, both the two women, Gwendolyn and Cecily are pretty much in love with the nameErnest.

According o them, the name inspires absolute confidence. They think that men named ernest will be as honest as the name’s similar sounding adjective ‘earnest’ suggests. The connection between the name ‘Ernest’ and the adJctive ‘earnest’ is the play on words that the play is centered around. Both women seem to be so obsessed with the nonexistent sincerity that they believe comes with the name ernest that they don’t think about the men’s actual personalities. Neither of them was that neither of the men had any intentions to be sincere or truthful to live up to that name.In fact, the entire play is based around deception , lies and concealment which is anything but earnest.

At the end of the play, we experience the extreme plot wist when we find out that Jacks name was actually Ernest all along. But the fact remains that his intentions were not sincere or earnest in any way. That’s when he realizes the importance of being earnest. 2) Who is Bunbury, and who is “Ernest” (originally)? Why have these characters been created? What role do they have in the themes of the play? Bunbury is the fictional friend that Jacks best friend Algernon Moncrieff makes up.

Bubury is Algernon’s way of getting out of many social events he does not wish to attend. He constantly tells the lie of Bunbury being at his deathbed and has to rush off to be at his side. He, then, conviniently gets out of fulfilling a lot of his tiring social duties. He refers to this as ‘bunburying. The fact that he labeled his actions suggests that he does it very often and maybe even too much. Ernest is also a fictional character. He was made up by Jack for the same reasons as Algernon made up Bunbury.

But, he was actually known as Ernest in London while being called Jack in is house in the country.Whilst in the country, being known as Jack, he pretends to have a younger brother called Ernest who lives in town. He made up Ernest to be a misbehaving, irresponsible mn who was always getting into trouble. Jack would then be able to leave the country and go into the lown whenever he wangted by making up an excuse that he had to go fix a pronlem his younger brother created. Instead of takinh care of his fictional younger brther, however, he goes off to London and does all the things he says he disapproves Ernest doing.Both these characters were made p as alibis for two cowardly men who would rather manage a double life than take up the responsibilities theyVe been given. In all irony, they lie and deceive in order to maintain an earnest and truthful image.

That non existing truthful image is what both women in the play are after and they refuse to marry a man who doesn’t have that name. Both the men who they think are named ernest are actually anything but earnest. The main themes of the play are deception, deceit and pretense. Both men are two-faced and are pretending to be someone theyre not.They both seem to be espectable men upholding the highest and strictest Victorian morals while actually misbehaving without having to suffer any of the consequences because they can always blame it on their alter egos. The fact that even when their lies are exposed and neither Cecily nor Gwendolyn were too angry shows how shallow they all really were. It didn’t matter to the women how the two mn had been deceiving them as long as they still mentioned their wealth and aristocracy.

Things like honesty and responsibility do not seem to be of great importance to them 3) Why has Jack been concealing Cecilys location from Algernon?How does Algernon find it out, and what does he do? “Ernest”? Who is “Ernest” in each case? In gwendolyn’s case, Ernest is the fictional man who Jack pretends to be called. Jack pretends to be called Ernest whenever he’s away to London and everyone in the country thinks he is Jack going to take care of his misbehaving younger brother Ernest in town. Jack falls in love with Gwendolyn who is his best friend Algernon Moncrieffs cousin. Gwendolyn is a sophisticated young woman who grew up in a wealthy aristocratic family. It is obvious to see that shes very demanding anf usually gets what she wants.Ad what she wanted in the play was to marry a man named Ernest because of the good values and confidence that she believed came with tthat name.

After Jack and Gwendolyn reveal their feelings for each other, Jack is dismayed to hear that the reason Gwendolyn is so interested in him is mostly because she ebelieved his name was Ernest. She made it clear that she would not marry a man uness his anme was Ernest. So, Jack propsed to her and continued letting her believe his name was Ernest so that she would marry him. Cecily knows Ernest as her guardian Uncle Jacks mischevious younger brother.Whenever Jack used to talk about ernest as a wicked troublemaker, his stories had an opposite effect on Cecily and she became strangely inresred in Ernest. The idea of wickidness appealed to her and the more she heard about Ernest the more fascinated she gor. She was upset about the fact that uncle Jack did not allow ernest to visit them. When Algernon, Jacks best friend, met Cecily he fell in love with her.

He knew how interested Cecily was in ernest so he pretended to be him and proposed to Cecily. She accepted anf told him that she actually considers them as already engaged.She told him about the imaginary relationship between her and Ernest she had made up in her head from things that uncle Jack told her. Her imaginary relationship was complete with love letters that she wrote, a ring and many stories written in her diary.

Basically, she was in a made up reaionship Wih a man called Ernest that did not exist and when Algernon showed up petending to be Ernest, Cecilys dreams became a reality 5) What is the truth about Jacks origin revealed in the final scene? What problem does this resolve? When miss prism sees lady bracknell she seems very scared.Lady bracknell starts to interrogate her about a baby that Miss Prism was sipoosed to take out for a walk 28 years ago. She says that Mr prism left a house with a baby carriage with a baby boy and never returned and the carriage was found weeks later containing a 3 volume novel. Ms prism then confesses that she left that day with the baby in the baby carriage and a handbag with the novel. She thinks that she might gave confused the two and put the baby in the bag and the novel into the baby carriage. Jack then asks miss prism where she left the handbag.He excuses himself to go get the handbag hat he was found in and miss prism identifies it as the bag she has misplaced.

Jack misunderstands and thinks that Miss Prism was his mother who had left him there shes unmarried and she cant possibly be his mother. Miss bracknell then explains that Jack is the son of her sister and is Algernon’s older brother. The question remains of Jacks real name. Lady Bracknell told him that he was named after his father but no one knew Gereral Mooncreiffs first name.

After browsing military records on Jacks bookshelves, they find out that Jacks father’s name was ernest John.The entire play is based around a man called Ernest while in fact, there was no man named Ernest. Ernest was also supposed to have a mischievous younger brother and that was also thought to be completely made up. Although Jacks intentions were not to be truthful, he was telling the truth all along. Since his fathers’ name was Ernest he, being the eldest son, also had that name.

also, since he was lady Bracknell’s sister’s son, that made him Algernon’s older brother. So, Jack did turn out to have a mischevious younger brother that whole time he was pretending to have one.


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