The Importance of Being Earnest

  1. The play’s secondary hero is a charming, idle, decorative bachelor, nephew of Lady Bracknell, cousin of Gwendolen Fairfax, and best friend of Jack Worthing, whom he has known for years as Ernest. he is brilliant, witty, selfish, amoral, and given to making delightful paradoxical and epigrammatic pronouncements. He has invented a fictional friend, “Bunbury,” an invalid whose frequent sudden relapses allow him to wriggle out of unpleasant or dull social obligations.
  2. The play’s protagonist. a seemingly responsible and respectable young man who leads a double life. In Hertfordshire, where he has a country estate, known as ... In London he is known as...was discovered in a handbag in the cloakroom of Victoria Station by an old man who adopted him and subsequently made him guardian to his granddaughter, Cecily Cardew. he is in love with his friend Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax. The initials after his name indicate that he is a Justice of the Peace.
  3. Algernon’s cousin and Lady Bracknell’s daughter. she is in love with Jack, whom she knows as Ernest. A model and arbiter of high fashion and society, she speaks with unassailable authority on matters of taste and morality. She is sophisticated, intellectual, cosmopolitan, and utterly pretentious. she is fixated on the name Ernest and says she will not marry a man without that name.
  4. Jack’s ward, the granddaughter of the old gentlemen who found and adopted Jack when Jack was a baby. she is probably the most realistically drawn character in the play. Like Gwendolen, she is obsessed with the name Ernest, but she is even more intrigued by the idea of wickedness. This idea, rather than the virtuous-sounding name, has prompted her to fall in love with Jack’s brother Ernest in her imagination and to invent an elaborate romance and courtship between them
  5. Algernon’s snobbish, mercenary, and domineering aunt and Gwendolen’s mother. she married well, and her primary goal in life is to see her daughter do the same. She has a list of “eligible young men” and a prepared interview she gives to potential suitors. Like her nephew, she is given to making hilarious pronouncements, but where Algernon means to be witty, the humor in her speeches is unintentional. Through the figure of her, Wilde manages to satirize the hypocrisy and stupidity of the British aristocracy. she values ignorance, which she sees as “a delicate exotic fruit.” When she gives a dinner party, she prefers her husband to eat downstairs with the servants. She is cunning, narrow-minded, authoritarian, and possibly the most quotable character in the play.
    Lady Bracknell
Card Set
The Importance of Being Earnest
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