What is Jack’s origin story?
For most of his life, Jack knows only that he was left in a handbag in a railway station as a baby and that he was adopted and raised by Mr. Thomas Cardew. He has experienced all the trappings of high society, and he is effectively a gentleman. However, Lady Bracknell does not value Jack’s upbringing, only his parentage. She declares him unsuitable to marry Gwendolen because, in her eyes, his origin squarely resides in a train station. It is not until the end of the play that Jack learns he is a gentleman by birth, not just upbringing, and that he is in fact Algernon’s older brother, Ernest John Moncrieff.
Why does Jack lie?
Jack wants the freedom to live a double life. He can act however he wants in London as Ernest, while also keeping his reputation as an upstanding gentleman in the country as Jack. Algernon accuses Jack of “Bunburying,” and, despite Jack’s protestations, he does use his false personalities in much the same way as Algernon uses Bunbury. Jack continues to lie about his identity as long as it benefits him, but he feels it is for an honorable reason. However, once Gwendolen indicates she wants to marry an Ernest, Jack attempts to get rid of his false brother and change his own name to Ernest so that he can be a respectable husband. When his lies are exposed, he leans on the so-called good intentions behind the lies to acquit himself.
Who is Cecily in love with?
When we first meet Cecily, she has fashioned an entire fictional romance with Jack’s brother Ernest in her diary, and she fancies herself in love with him. Ironically, Ernest turns out to be just as fictional as Cecily’s romance with him. She falls in love with Algernon after he introduces himself as Ernest, and she gives Algernon the backstory of her imagined romance as though he were involved in it. When she discovers Algernon’s deception, she is happy to stay in love with him and her constructed idea of who he should be. Cecily creates the story of their romance and Algernon plays along, so they both end up happy.
How does Algernon use Bunbury?
Algernon creates Bunbury as a convenient excuse to get out of social obligations, particularly with his aunt, Lady Bracknell. Algernon cannot simply ignore convention, but he can go to the aid of his sick friend, Bunbury, without offending his family. Bunbury is a weak excuse, as it would take only a small investigation to discover no such man exists, but Lady Bracknell is not interested in the details of Algernon’s deception.
How does Jack view marriage?
Throughout the play, all the characters discuss the purpose of marriage. While many characters have a more jaded view, Jack is a romantic. He wants to marry Gwendolen because he is in love with her, not for social currency. When Algernon asks if Jack is in London for business or pleasure, he thinks Jack is wrong to place a marriage proposal in the pleasure category. Lady Bracknell and Algernon both posit love as a bad reason for marriage, as they have a more aristocratic attitude toward marriage as a financial arrangement, but Jack stands by love as his primary reason to be with Gwendolen.