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Explore Oscar Wildes presentation of his character Jack from his play The Importance of Being Earnest; showing how this character develops over the course of the action and the message he gives to the audience.

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Introduction

Explore Oscar Wilde's presentation of his character Jack from his play 'The Importance of Being Earnest'; showing how this character develops over the course of the action and the message he gives to the audience. Stubborn, irresponsible and shallow: three words to describe the character Jack, from 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. In Oscar Wilde's light-hearted play, Jack is a wealthy young man, who is a main character involved in the complex plot(s). Throughout the play, Wilde slowly reveals different things about Jack so the audience feel like they are getting to know him better. The playwright obviously has strong views about people from the Edwardian era (setting of 'The Importance of Being Earnest'), and his characters are his way of communicating these opinions. Jack is a noticeable character and has very individual traits, which adds to the atmosphere of the play and makes it more humorous. By giving each character a distinctive personality, it helps the audience distinguish between the many plots because the more extreme a character is, the more likely it is that you remember them. He appears to have no understanding of responsibility as at the beginning of the play he says 'Oh, pleasure, pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere?', when Algernon asks why he has come to the town. This shows he is irresponsible because it shows he just wants to have fun and enjoy himself. This quote also shows he is wealthy and extravagant because he can obviously travel whenever he wants to and has the cash to do so. This links back to the point that he is irresponsible because if he had the sole responsibility of anything then he wouldn't just be able to travel - for example if he worked then he would not just be able to leave his job. The word 'pleasure' emphasises the point that the character Jack is wealthy, as he clearly has a luxurious lifestyle and the money to afford' pleasure'. ...read more.

Middle

He sounds very charming and this line is likely to surprise and impress Gwendolen. On stage this would probably be a very intense and emotional scene. Gwendolen and Jack are having this secret conversation while Lady Bracknell (Gwendolen's mother), is in the other room, so it could be quite rushed or panicky. Later in act one he calls her 'My own darling' which shows he is affectionate, but possible a bit possessive. The fact he calls her 'darling' shows he is affectionate and adoring of her because it is a familiar pet-name. He says 'my own' which is the part that makes him sound possessive because it sounds like she is a possession; an object rather than a woman. This could mean the character is controlling and maybe clingy. He wants other people to know Gwendolen is with him and it could be pride or it could be jealousy and control. Towards the end of the play, in act 3, Gwendolen says 'I am engaged to be married to Mr. Worthing'. This quote makes Jack (Mr. Worthing) appears to be romantic because the couple have stayed together through the action in the play so far, even though they have had opposition. They are still serious about each other, and love each other even though their relationship was frowned upon and challenged by the highly respected Lady Bracknell. She was quite a fierce character so it makes it more likely that Jack and Gwendolen are truly in love, because they are in an unofficial and nonstandard relationship (because of the way they got together), and so should probably not be together but even with Lady Bracknell pressuring them to split up they haven't. Their relationship is unusual because in that era, if you wanted to marry a woman you went to her parents first but Jack didn't do this, he went straight to Gwendolen, which must have angered Lady Bracknell as she would have felt protective towards Gwendolen. ...read more.

Conclusion

Wilde mocks this by making the characters take this to extreme lengths. The whole play is quite satirical and presents a moral paradox due to the fact the title is 'The Importance of Being Earnest', Earnestness is a quality of being serious and as none of the characters are meant to be this, its satire. What Wilde wants us to see as truly moral is really the opposite of earnestness: irreverence. The fact that the two main male characters lie throughout the play might also be a point that Wilde tries to get across. Both treat life as if it is just a game or a work of art that they can do what they like with. Algy although untruthful, only created Bunbury to travel different places however Jack takes it to another level, by taking on both identities, bothering with costumes when 'Ernest' dies etc. Algy makes up stories that don't harm the others view on truth but Jack acts almost hypocritically. Overall, Jack didn't actually change that much over the course of the action. He starts lying and just lines from the end says 'it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth', so his views have not changed considerably. The plot has not changed his life a huge amount, especially not in a negative way that would prompt change. He has found out he has a brother, but it is his best friend anyway so even though it may change their relationship, it's not negative. He temporarily split form Gwendolen but then they got back together so this is not negative and also Lady Bracknell has discovered Jack is her nephew so this is good. This means we will see no reason to change because everything is good and how he wants it to be. Wilde's message is clear, and in general I would say he thought the upper class were shallow and self-centred! ?? ?? ?? ?? Meg Stratton 9G/9C1 .2 ...read more.

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