An Allegory Through Ernest and Algernon : A Conquest Named Ernest between Worthing and Moncrieff


We should agree that The Importance of Being Earnest has powerful men characters, those are Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff. Jack Worthing is the Major (protagonist) character in drama which made by Oscar Wilde, he called Jack in the country and Ernest in the city. He used it named in the city because he was pretending that he has a brother named Ernest. Robert Russel (2004) argues the another reason why he used it named because of he wants to escape about his responsibility as guardian of Cecily1, until he met Gwendolen Fairfax a young lady that make him crushed and was enchanted about named Earnest2.

 In the Minor Character the Importance of being Earnest has Algernon Moncrieff, he was Jack’s friend simultaneously as Gwendolen’s cousin. He felt in love with Cecily and pretended to be Ernest too. Cecily knew that Jack has brother and it name is Ernest. So, she believe that Ernest is Algernon and Algernon is Ernest. Algernon pretend to be Ernest in order to get attention from Cecily.

In this drama we can see that these two role characters have same mission to get their love with pretending to be Ernest. in the different characteristics, they have same motives to marrying the girl whom they loved, they hide their own identity just to get good image. The Ernest itself is a symbol of valor, wisdom, and honesty. That’s why every women will be falling in love with the man name Ernest.

If we analyzed Ernest and Moncrieff are allegory of Victorian age3. Zaidan (2004)  argues that allegory is the symbol (figurative language) of human life which  connected  with its values  i.e. : loyalty, honesty etc. The author hide her/his mind  simultaneously to published it.  We agree with her statement, we found that Oscar Wilde actually wanted to hide and published his mind through The Importance of being Earnest. He  criticize about the era Victoria age through  satire comedy genre. He tried to showed the reality of Victoria age which full of hypocrisy and untruthfulness towards role of Jack and Moncrieff to get something named Ernest. It’s a dream to get honesty and loyalty. Initially, if we watched this drama we never know what Wilde meant to be  but when we analyze we’ll find a propaganda to figured out about the importance of honesty.

Victorian age is symbol of luxury and glory whereas, actually Victorian also regarded by some people as the era of hypocrisy, decadence, and lies. Modernism also the sign of the Victorian age, 1899’s was the first published of the importance of Being Earnest that’s meant its drama was including to the latest Victorian age.

Allegory seemed when Jack Worthing lies about his name, initially he asked to Gwendolen how’s if his name is not Ernest and Gwendolen answered that the only really safe name is Ernest (The Importance of Being Earnest act II) and it makes Jack to continue about his lying. In different way, Algernon was criticize about Jack’s behavior but actually he also do what Jack did.. Hypocrisy and untruthfulness happened in these two characters. It happened in the reality of Victorian age Murfin ( ) revealed that generally perception of Victoria era is the hypocrisy, politeness, and close-minded. Victoria age also changes every section of life especially to middle-social class. Many of people from middle-social wants to joined in aristocrat peoples. The second Allegory happened again when Gwendolen and Cecily wanted Marry with the people whom named Ernest. they felt  their class will be up when they marry with Ernest.

 Especially, this drama came when the latest of Victorian era so, it clearly seemed that Victorian era has bad sides. The other sides Victorian age also has good sides William J. Long (2004) states Victoria Era  is the climax of Democracy. It means  that’s an age of popular education, of religious tolerance, of growing brotherhood, and of profound social unrest. We concluded that Victorian age has mission to reached a good human-values towards the wrong way which is filled by hypocrisy. It happened to Jack and Moncrieff, they hide their hypocrisy with the good willing that’s to marry with the girl whom they love. They also hiding in the name of Ernest in order to get the good image.

In the Ending of story we knew that Jack is the real Ernest ( The importance of being Earnest : act III) , it suppose that Ernest need not to be pretend about his identity to protect his image because the truth (honesty, loyalty, etc image) will be approach without pretending. Nor,  Algernon even he wasn’t the real Ernest, he still get his love ( Cecily) it showed that he doesn’t need to be hypocrite to get the happiness. It happened with Victoria age which showed the hypocrisy to get glory image. Even its also has the good  result, Wilde himself still asked the decadence of the end of Victoria age.

Realism is the wilde’s way in drama “The importance of being Earnest”. Luxemburg ( 1987 in tentang sastra )  revealed realism is the importance literature in 19th centuries, its genre try to reflect the fact in real life but in 20th centuries  realism doesn’t meant like that “Realism” isn’t use in genre of literature but  to reflect the way of language. We provoke that the meant of  realism in this drama are both of them those are realism in 19th  and 20th centuries because this drama came in the first half 20th centuries (1899). Luxemburg also add that realism writer tried to give objective information which has coherences with the real life that’s depend on point of view the author, themes, character, etc.

In realism the main character acts in problematic and they usually against the norms. It actually happened in Jack who had against the right norm with hypocrisy. The way of language also has realism characteristics, Wilde wrote the script with to the point, if we try to connect this drama with real life surely there are  connections. The first point is about marriage, then about honesty, class social and the last is satire about victoria (aristocrats) age which really happened in its era.

Prophecy also fill The Importance of Being Earnest, prophecy is the prediction  about the things that will be happened in the future or that period. Surely story like that will be happened in each period from passed, now, or future because this story tells about trivial comedy which maybe happen to anyone. The relationship that is  filled by lying and hypocrisy maybe happen in the future or now.

Comedy satire which showed The Importance of Being Earnest has obvious Allegory if we watched it with appreciate. Eagleton (1996) argues there are connection between development literature and politic also ideology in 20th  centuries. This connection is not only about war, economy, and revolution but also about they were in, such as : crisis of human-relation,  simultaneously social phenomenon. This is it The Importance Being Earnest that full of crisis human-relation, social phenomenon and trick of human behaviour which package with comedy.

Oscar Wilde is the  smart person to place the Allegory. Indirectly he criticism about Victoria age  and surely the social phenomenon which happened in that period. He made this story seems easy but also meaningful. He also has good technique to serve the literature. Maybe that’s why The Importance being Ernest also called as trivial comedy for serious people.


1 Granddaughter from a man named Thomas Cardew, who has passed away. Cardew adopted Jack as a baby and  now Cecily has been entrusted to Jack.

2Ernest is the symbol of masculinity1

3 victorian age begun from 1837-1901



Zaidan, Abdul Rozak dkk . 2004.Kamus Istilah Sastra. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka

Luxemburg, Jan Van dkk. 1991. Tentang Sastra. Jakarta: Intermassa

Eagleton,Terry. 1996. Literary Theory: An introduction, 2nd edition. Massachusetts: Blackwell publisher.

Long, William J. 2004. English literature. England : Proofreaders

Russel, Robert. 2006. The Importance of Being Earnest. England: New Mermaids.








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