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The Importance of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde
Jack Worthing Timeline and Summary
Jack-as-Ernest visits Algernon. After the cigarette case fiasco, Ernest reveals that Cecily is his ward. He explains why he is Jack in the country and Ernest in the city. Jack learns about Algernon’s Bunburying. During an afternoon tea visit, Jack proposes to Gwendolen. Jack is interrupted and interrogated by Lady Bracknell. After being refused by Lady Bracknell, Jack plans to kill off Ernest. Jack gives Gwendolen his country address, which Algernon cleverly jots down. After killing off Ernest, Jack returns to the Manor House, dressed in mourning. He explains that his brother, Ernest, died of a "severe chill." Jack is shocked when he discovers that his brother, Ernest, is alive and well, and at the country house. Jack soon discovers that the Ernest who arrived is really Algernon. Jack arranges for his "brother" to leave. Jack comes out to greet Gwendolen. Jack's and Algernon’s deceit is revealed to the two girls, who seek refuge in the house. Left to themselves, Jack and Algernon fight over muffins. The two men finally enter the house to find their loves. Jack and Algernon reveal that they only lied out of love for the girls. They are immediately forgiven. Jack receives a visit from Lady Bracknell. Jack reveals Cecily’s inheritance, much to Lady Bracknell’s interest. Jack refuses to give consent for Cecily to marry Algernon unless Lady Bracknell allows him to marry Gwendolen. Jack hears Miss Prism’s story, and begins to suspect that Miss Prism knows where he comes from. Jack finds the handbag in his chambers. Jack first believes that Miss Prism is his mother. Jack discovers from Lady Bracknell that he is Algernon’s older brother. Jack looks in the Army Lists to find his true Christian name. He discovers his name is Ernest. Jack hugs Gwendolen joyfully, knowing they can finally be married. Jack tells Lady Bracknell he has learned "the vital Importance of Being Earnest."