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Contrastingly, although duality in The Picture of Dorian Gray is portrayed by dividing one’s self into two, in The Importance of Being Earnest, there are several instances of characters taking on dual identities. Jack Worthing is an especially interesting case of this dual identity because, in the end, he becomes the person he has been portraying all along. This causes many humorous lies and lavish stories to keep up the personas of his characters both by himself and Algernon Moncrieff.

Jack Worthing is a country boy through and through, however, you might not know it straight away. This is because he first introduces himself as one Ernest Worthing, of London. It could be said, by Algernon at least, that Jack is somewhat of a Bunburyist. Algy quite simply states to Jack that he is, “one of the most advanced Bunburyists [he] know[s]”. A Bunburyist is simply Algernon’s way of saying that Jack has a dual personality or multiple identities. He has done so as a way to get away from his normal life so that, “[he] may be able to come up to town as often as [he] like[s],”. This is something that is not even completely uncommon in today’s society.

One of the most well-known and controversial ways that people like to take on the role of a dual personality today days is by “catfishing”. A catfish as defined by Merriam-Webster is, “a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes,”. Popularized by a film released in 2010 and a show which aired on MTV called “Catfish”, it became widely publicized how many people in society pretend to be someone that they are not as a means to gain an intimate and romantic relationship. Some might say that it is their right as everyone deserves to be loved. However, at what cost is this to the people that they are deceiving? This is portrayed in Wilde’s play when Algernon arrives at Jack’s country home as Ernest and both Miss Fairfax and Miss Cardew are present having both been recently engaged to “Ernest Worthing”. Of course, this is a slightly different situation, but both girls immediately become somewhat defensive and Miss Cardew states, “Ernest proposed to me exactly ten minutes ago,” which Miss Fairfax immediately rebukes by saying, “It is certainly very curious, for he asked me to be his wife yesterday afternoon at 5.30,” This may seem somewhat humorous in the context of the play, but surely both women are also deeply concerned and somewhat hurt at being deceived. Just in the way that so many people today are by those who catfish.

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In most online romantic relationships catfishing does not seem to be a problem, however, because most people are exactly who they say they are but until they physically meet the person with whom they have a relationship there may always be a doubt in their minds. This is because of the human desire for people to create an alternate identity or dual personality. Online it is very easy for someone to be somebody else. Although Jack did not have an online profile where he created his alternative identity, he did have another city. This allowed him the freedom of being whomever he wanted to be since nobody knew who he was. He certainly fooled one Miss Fairfax and Miss Cardew.

Most people’s desire to become someone that they are not stemmed from them not liking themselves or where they come from. As was Jack’s case, although even as Ernest he claimed his humble begging all the same. Jack admitted to Lady Bracknell upon being questioned for her daughter’s hand in marriage, of coming from, “a handbag—a somewhat large, black leather handbag, with handles to it—an ordinary handbag in fact,”. This is humorous because in this moment he is not playing his role as Jack, but as Ernest and he could have conceived of a much more elaborate and appealing place to come from than that of which he answered Lady Bracknell’s question. However, while being deceitful he maintained some half-truths.

In the end, it seems everyone gets caught in their lies and finds out who/what they are. In some cases, they may be, “Two college students,” who, “pranked an ex-roommate who they didn’t like,”. However, it seems that most are just people trying to find love in ways that they are not capable of, and in Jack’s case he becomes exactly who he said he was all along. This ends Wilde’s play on a very hilarious note and makes one think about whether everyone around them is who they say they are, even if they are pretending to be someone they are not. 

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