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Free Study Guide-The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde-Summary
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CONFLICT

The major conflict in this play is that Jack wants to marry Gwendolen, who believes his name is really Ernest-and loves him for that, and that he cannot because Lady Bracknell does not approve of Jack’s background.

Protagonist

The protagonist is the main character of the story, and the one around whom most of the action revolves. In this story, the protagonist is Jack Worthing. He is the protagonist because the plot revolves around his attempt to marry Gwendolen.


Antagonist

The antagonist is the principle character that opposes the protagonist. This story is a bit unusual, as it is more rooted in satire than anything else, in that its antagonist is Lady Bracknell. This is because she opposes the main intentions of the protagonist. Her refusal to allow her daughter to marry the main character is from where much of the plot stems.

Climax

The climactic moment (moment when the plot reaches a high point in its action after which everything leads toward resolution) is when the two main female characters, Gwendolen and Cecily, confront Jack and Algernon, who have both been pretending to be “Ernest.” This moment is a result of Jack wanting to marry Gwendolen and not being allowed to do so and the resultant trip of Algernon to Jack’s home, where he, too, pretends to be Ernest.

The major conflict is resolved, ironically, when Jack discovers his true identity is his false identity: he was really named Ernest when he was born. Furthermore, he is from a reputable background.

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