Why has Jack kept his life in the country a closely guarded secret from Algernon?

Expert Answers

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

As for "why" he decides to be "Jack in the country" and "Earnest in the city" from his friend Algernon whom also happens to be "Algy in the city who Bunbury's in the country" is nothing but the author's own personal contempt to the hypocrisy of Victorian society and their plentiful double-lives. In the story, as it is, it comes as a surprise in a way to the reader to realize that, after their extended friendship, Algernon knew nothing of "Jack" and Earnest knew nothing of Bunbury, which leads us to realize that the two had a quite shallow relationship, much like those of Victorian, upper class Londoners at that time. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jack keeps two different personae, Jack and Ernest. He is Jack in the country and Ernest in the city. Jack is very responsible, the care-taker of a young lady, and very wealthy. Ernest is carefree, frivolous, and impetuous. Jack doesn't want Algernon to know about his double life, otherwise it might lose its appeal. Wilde is using this to create a sense of irony and satire, mocking the dutiful attitude of Victorian society.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial