Illustration of Jack Worthing in a top hat and formal attire, and a concerned expression on his face

The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde
Start Free Trial

In The Importance of Being Earnest, who is Frederick Chasuble?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Frederick Chasuble is a Rector who agrees to christen both Algernon and Jack with the name Ernest. As a member of the Primitive Church, Chasuble is sworn to live without engaging in matrimony, a fact of which Miss Prism seems resentful. She notes that:

“By persistently remaining single, a man...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Frederick Chasuble is a Rector who agrees to christen both Algernon and Jack with the name Ernest. As a member of the Primitive Church, Chasuble is sworn to live without engaging in matrimony, a fact of which Miss Prism seems resentful. She notes that:

“By persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation. Men should be more careful; this very celibacy leads weaker souls astray.”

It is implied that Miss Prism aims to marry Chasuble. In response to Chasuble’s declaration that husbands are not attractive even to their wives, she says:

“That depends on the intellectual sympathies of the woman. Maturity can always be depended on. Ripeness can be trusted. Young women are green.”

These remarks follow on the heels of a conversation about how Chasuble is “too much alone” and as such ought to marry. Chasuble, for his part, appears to have a fumbling interest in her. He says, unintentionally humorous, that:

“Were I fortunate enough to be Miss Prism’s pupil, I would hang upon her lips.”

Later, he attempts to compliment her by referring to her as Egeria, a Roman goddess as well as one of the earliest female authors. He also calls Miss Prism by her first name, an intimate gesture in the Victorian era.

For all that he is pedantic, Chasuble is still somewhat foolish; he only has one all-purpose sermon that can be converted for any occasion. He is kind, however—he offers sincere condolences upon hearing of the death of Jack’s brother and chides Miss Prism for her petty glee in his comeuppance.

The play ends with Chasuble embracing Miss Prism, much to her delight; it is implied that they will be married soon.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team