Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Algernon (Algy) Moncrief
Algernon (Algy) Moncrief, a young man of fashion and considerable worldly charm. He is a confirmed Bunburyist; that is, he uses an imaginary sick friend’s name and condition as an excuse to leave London when he finds his aristocratic aunt, Lady Bracknell, too domineering or her dinner parties too dull. He delights in the artificial, the trivial, and the faddish, and he employs them for his own amusement, the only thing about which, as he insists, he is ever serious. Out for a jape, he poses as John Worthing’s fictitious brother Ernest to court his friend’s ward, Cecily Cardew. Although genuinely in love, he never abandons his pose of reckless pretense or his cynically amusing observations on country and city life, manners, fashions, and relatives.
John (Jack) Worthing, J.P.
John (Jack) Worthing, J.P., Algernon Moncrief’s friend, who poses as Ernest to win the hand of Algy’s cousin, the Honorable Gwendolyn Fairfax, Lady Bracknell’s daughter. Also a Bunburyist, he has invented a fictitious brother Ernest, a reprobate who is always getting into scrapes, as an excuse for his frequent visits to London. Jack is serious about most things, especially love. He was a foundling, brought up by a wealthy man who made Jack the guardian of his benefactor’s granddaughter, Cecily Cardew. When Jack proposes to Gwendolyn, he arouses Lady Bracknell’s displeasure because he cannot trace his family tree. All he knows is that he had been found abandoned in a leather bag left at Victoria Station. Finally, his parentage is traced, and he learns that he is the long-lost son of Lady Bracknell’s sister, that Algy is his younger brother, and that his Christian name really is Ernest. This last fact is the most pleasing, for Gwendolyn could not possibly love him under any other name.
Lady Augusta Bracknell
Lady Augusta Bracknell, Algernon Moncrief’s aunt, a...
(The entire section is 798 words.)
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