Both Algernon and Jack are motivated to lead a double life to pursue pleasure and love. Jack used the guise of Ernest to visit Gwendolen in the city while Algernon used the Ernest persona to meet and woo Cecily. Jack used the Ernest cover to escape his reputation of being the highly moral and responsible guardian of Cecily. As Ernest, he could relax, enjoy himself, go to parties, and pursue Gwendolen. Algernon pretended to be Ernest solely to pursue Cecily. As Jack's supposed younger brother, he was welcomed into Jack's house and Cecily already knew him by name. Cecily had heard so much about Ernest that when Algernon came pretending to be him she felt like she already knew him, loved him, and was engaged with him.
I believe Gwendolen and Jack's relationship is more likely to succeed than Cecily and Algernon's relationship. Although Jack lied to Gwendolen about his name being Ernest, Cecily had ...view middle of the document...
I believe maturity is needed for any successful relationship and Cecily needs more time to grow up.
When it is revealed that there is no one named Ernest, Gwendolen says to Cecily, “I am afraid it is quite clear, Cecily, that neither of us is engaged to be married to anyone.” She believes that a person's identity is in their names, and she did not get engaged to anyone named Jack. Gwendolen got engaged to Ernest. Cecily got engaged to Ernest. Ernest does not exist. Therefore, neither of them are engaged. That is Gwendolen's reasoning.
I believe neither Gwendolen nor Cecily fell in love with Jack and Algernon. Gwendolen imagined her knight in shining armor named Ernest and their life together long before she met Jack. When Jack arrived, Gwendolen mentally placed that shining armor on Jack. She did not truly see Jack as he was, she only saw what she imagined him to be. It's the same with Cecily though she took it several steps farther. Cecily imaged her true love named Ernest, she imagined him proposing to her on February 14th, she imagined their breakup, and she imagined what he would write in his love letters and she wrote them to herself at least twice a week. When Algernon arrived, she simply pinned everything she had imagined about her true love Ernest onto him. Algernon did not have to woo Cecily to fall in love with him as Ernest because she had already won herself over for Ernest. When it is revealed that neither Jack nor Algernon are Ernest, both Gwendolen and Cecily realize that they were not the men of their dreams. The shining armor they mentally placed on them didn't quite fit. I think Wilde is criticizing how women daydream and imagine what the love of their lives will be like before they even meet them. Gwendolen and Cecily found both found someone who had a least one of the characteristics which they imagined the love of their lives to have, the name of Ernest. After that they filled in all the other unknown details about their love with what they had imagined. Jack and Algernon would not have been able to deceive the women without their help. Half of the deception was Gwendolen and Cecily deceiving themselves.