Principal Characters Jack Worthing, gentleman of the Manor House; also known as "Ernest" Celcily Cardew, Worthing's pretty young ward Miss Prism, Cecily's governess Algernon Moncrieff, Worthing's friend Lady Augusta Braknell, Algernon's aunt Gwendolen Fairfax, Lady Bracknell's daughter The Reverend Canon Chasublc, Rector of Woolton Story Overview While Algernon Moncrieff and his manservant prepared for a visit froi-n his aunt, the formidable Lady Bracknell, their conversation turned to the question of marriage. Observing the servant's somewhat lax views on the subject, Algernon declared, "Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?" This chat was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Algernon's friend, Ernest WorthingWorthing was pleased to hear that Lady Bracknell - and her beautiful daughter Gwendolen - would be appearing for tea. But Algernon warned, "I am afraid Aunt Augusta won't quite approve of your bein here."
Mildly insulted, Ernest demanded to know why. "My dear fellow," Algernon answered, "the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you." At this point Worthing announced that he intended to propose marriage to Gwendolen, but was taken aback by Algernon's response: "I don't give my consent." Worthing, would first have to explain a certain "Cecily" in his life. As evidence of this relationship, he produced a cigarette case left behind by Worthing on an earlier visit - devotedly inscribed from "Cecily" to her loving "Uncle Jack." "Well," admitted Worthing, "my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country." It happened, he said, that Cecily was his ward, who lived in his country home under the watchful eyes of a stern governess, Miss Prism. But to escape the stuffy constraints of country living,