The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

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Jack and Algernon both create fictional identities for their own convenience in The Importance of Being Earnest. Are there any important differences between their deceptions?

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The two deceptions employed by Jack and Algernon that are roughly equivalent are Jack's made-up brother Ernest and Algy's made-up friend Bunbury. This is why Algy calls Jack a "Bunburyist." Each has made up an excuse to get him out of doing things he doesn't want to do, so he has the opportunity to do what he wants to do.

However, Jack's taking on the identity of Ernest is different from Algy's taking on the identity of Ernest. Jack is engaging in his own deception, which gives him greater control of the story. Although he has deceived Gwendolen about his name, he really doesn't try to dissimulate about who he is. When Lady Bracknell interviews him, he presents his real identity to her, including the fact that he was, as she puts it, "born and bred in a handbag." It is only his name that he has changed. (The exception is the fact that he doesn't pay his bill at the hotel; he doesn't reveal the facts about his true self to the bill collectors.)

When Algy assumes the...

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