Jack’s best friend, Gwendolen’s cousin, and Lady Bracknell’s nephew. He is a charming bachelor and extravagant dandy, who specializes in making witty remarks and “Bunburying,” or finding clever ways of getting out of his social obligations. He masquerades as Jack’s cousin “Ernest” in order to meet Cecily Cardew.
Jack’s betrothed, Algernon’s cousin, and Lady Bracknell’s daughter. Cosmopolitan, stylish, and sophisticated, she has opinionated views on matters of taste, morality, and fashion. She is also very vain and pretentious, as demonstrated by her refusal to marry anyone, but “Ernest.”
Jack’s ward, Mr. Thomas Cardew’s granddaughter, and Algernon’s love interest. Cecily is a starry-eyed young lady who prefers writing in her diary to studying. She dreams of meeting Jack’s cousin, “Ernest,” and constructs an elaborate, fictional engagement between herself and this elusive persona.
Called Aunt Augusta by her nephew Algernon, she is Gwendolen’s stuffy and judgmental mother. Lady Bracknell’s views are entrenched in Victorian social mores, so she will not allow Jack to marry Gwendolen until he finds some suitable “relations.”
Cecily’s prim and pedantic governess, she espouses such rigid views on morality that they seem quite ridiculous. Her love interest is Dr. Chausible.
The rector on Jack’s country estate. Algernon and Jack turn to him to be christened, “Ernest.” Dr. Chasuble’s love interest is Miss Prism.
Jack’s butler at his country estate, Manor House.
Mr. Thomas Cardew
The rich man who adopts Jack as a baby and charges him with the guardianship of Cecily. Though he never actually appears as a character in the play, he’s referenced a few times.
Referenced in passing, he is Lady Bracknell’s husband and Gwendolen’s father.
Mentioned sparingly, she is Lady Bracknell’s sister and Algernon’s mother. She is also the mother of the baby boy accidentally abandoned in a handbag in a coatroom at Victoria station, making her Jack’s mother as well.
Mrs. Moncrieff’s husband, Algernon’s father, and Lady Bracknell’s brother-in-law. He also turns out to be Jack’s father. Jack is his namesake.