Oscar Wilde 's Character, Jack Worthing, And The Other

1329 Words Nov 30th, 2014 6 Pages
Oscar Wilde’s protagonist, Jack Worthing, carries on two distinct identities throughout the play. One of the personas is a countryman in Hertfordshire named Jack Worthing, and the other is a dandy in London named Ernest. Wilde intentionally creates two different characters, which are contradictory to the reader’s expectation whenever they first read the characters’ names. The name Ernest correlates with the actual definition of the adjective earnest, which means a person who is honest, serious, and sincere. Later in the play, Jack realizes his name is actually John, however both have the same connotation. Gwendolyn states in the first act, “there is very little music in the name Jack… I’ve known several Jacks, and they all without exception were more than usually plain” (Wilde 25). Evidently, in the Victorian Era, a man with the name Jack or John was expected to be plain or a man who is not a dandy, but an ordinary man who has responsibilities. The names Wilde gave to his characters seem to be appropriate, however, once the reader dissects the play, the names Jack and Ernest would have been better applied to their counterparts.
The brilliant title that Oscar Wilde gives his play is a pun in itself. The pun depends on not only the adjective earnest, but after the farce has ended the audience will recognize that there is an actual importance in being a gentleman named Ernest. In the Victorian era, the idea of earnestness was a virtue that the people attached the…
Open Document