Show how the complicated plot is resolved in "The Importance of Being Earnest".

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The real origin of Jack *Earnest* Worthing is revealed at his country house.  This scene is specifically important because all the key characters are present: Jack's friend Algernon was already there trying to pry on Cecily and pretending to be Jack's brother Earnest.  Gwendolyn (Algernon's cousin) was there as she was looking for Jack (whom she thought was named Earnest). Lady Bracknell shows up on the scene looking to get Gwendolyn, her daughter, back to London. The last two chacters, Dr. Chausible and Miss Prism (Cecily's tutor), come back from a stroll. Once all the main characters are in place, the setting for the resolution of the plot begins.

When Lady Bracknell recognizes Miss Prism, Miss Prism tries not to get recognized. The two women had not seen each other in a long time, and apparently Prism had left Lady Bracknell's sister's household after accidentally losing the baby she was responsible to take care of inside of a handbag at Victoria Station *the Brighton Line :)*.

This is the moment when Jack/Earnest  realizes he was the baby that Prism abandoned, produces the handbag in which he was found, and is now able to have names for those parents Lady Bracknell pushed him to find out about prior to allowing him to marry Gwendolyn.

However, there is more- Not only does he now have information about who his parents were:  He also realizes he is Algernon's real brother and by default Lady Bracknell's nephew!

To make this complicated plot more interesting, there is the question of whether his real name could possibily have been Earnest (since he was named by the man who took him from the handbag).  After searching information about his father, we find out that his name was Earnest and "by right" both Algernon and Jack could claim the name Earnest as well. This, of course made Gwendolyn and Cecily quite happy because they were both obsessed with the name Earnest.

At this point, Lady Bracknell gets the peerage clearned for Jack to marry Gwendolyn;  Algernon and Jack are declared natural brothers; they both claim the name Earnest; the women are now satisfied with the name, and Miss Prism and Dr. Chausible (as well as all the couples) are seemingly happy "at last".

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The Importance of Being Earnest

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