© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Importance of Being Earnest

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."