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Biplob Prodhan
  • 3 weeks ago
  • 19
How can you assess the role of Jack Worthing in the play The Importance of Being Earnest?

Ans. Jack Worthing or John Worthing is one of the main characters in The Importance of Being Earnest. He has a double identity. In the country, where he has an estate and is in charge of the upbringing of Cecily Cardew, he is the respectable Jack Worthing, a very serious and upright young man of twenty-nine. He makes frequent trips to London, however, where he assumes the mane of Ernest Worthing and pursues a life of pleasure. He is in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, the only daughter of Lady Bracknell and seeks her hand in marriage.

Jack realizes that Gwendolen loves him for what he is not, and determines to be christened. He is nervous of Lady Bracknell to begin with, but stands up well to her cross-examination, even offering to produce the hand-bag as evidence of his birth. After her exit he says that he is sick to death of cleverness; adds that he will kill off his brother Ernest; gives Gwendolen his Hertfordshire address and sees her out.

Jack’s nest appearance is in mourning clothes. Having convinced Dr. Chasuble and Miss Prism that his brother Enrest is indeed dead. he is horrified to discover that Algy is impersonating Ernest, as a result of which he is forced by Cecily to shake hands with him. He does his utmost to get rid of Algy quickly, and is then caught up in the mistaken identity with Gowendolen and Cecily, an occasion which produces the painful necessity of his having to speak the truth and admit that his name is John.

Jack is appalled when Algy eats the muffins at the moment of crisis, but when they next see the girls he is foremost in asserting that both of them will be christened ‘Ernest. He adopts a proud tone with Lady Bracknell at her second interrogation, disliking her tone with regard to Cecily. He detests Lady Bracknell’s patronage and snobbery but has the independence and cunning to withhold his consent to the marriage of Cecily and Algernon until his own future with Gwendolen is assured. But before that can happen he has to accept the revelation with regard to his own birth, after believing that Miss Prism is his mother. His place in society is guaranteed when he learns that he is Algy’s brother and that Lady Bracknell is his Aunt Augusta too.

Thus, Jack’s role in the play is very important. He proves to be an excellent guardian to Cecily in adopting a high moral tone so as to exercise a healthy influence on his ward and Cecily is also quite devoted to him. She calls him Uncle Jack. It shows the essential goodness of Jack’s character and upbringing as against Algernon’s flippant attitude, Gwendolen’s immaturity and Lady Bracknell’s obsession with the shallow values of London’s high society.

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Biplob Prodhan
Biplob Prodhan Founder & Director EDNOUB Foundation Ednoub Private Program

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