The Importance of Being Earnest

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Jack’s Handbag Symbol Icon
The handbag in which Jack was found as a baby is a symbol for the comedy of errors. Jack’s inadvertent abandonment in a place as obscure and ridiculous as a handbag at a train station demonstrates the absurd results that arise when silly, as well as serious, mistakes are made.

Jack’s Handbag Quotes in The Importance of Being Earnest

The The Importance of Being Earnest quotes below all refer to the symbol of Jack’s Handbag. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Art of Deception: Fact v. Fiction  Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of The Importance of Being Earnest published in 1990.
Act 1, Part 2 Quotes

You can hardly imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only daughter—a girl brought up with the utmost care—to marry into a cloak-room and form an alliance with a parcel.

Related Characters: Lady Bracknell (speaker), Jack, Gwendolen Fairfax, Lord Bracknell
Related Symbols: Jack’s Handbag, The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

As Lady Bracknell further presses Jack about his history, he admits that he was found by his adopted father in a cloak room at Victoria Station. Though already wealthy and aristocratic, Lady Bracknell is always seeking out ways in which her family can climb higher on the social ladder. One of the quickest ways of gaining socioeconomic capital was for a son or daughter to marry into a family of equal or higher social status. Thus, Lady Bracknell clearly hopes to marry Gwendolen into a highly esteemed family—not to "form an alliance with a parcel." To Lady Bracknell, someone's character is directly related to their birth. Jack, therefore, is in her eyes not a product of the wealthy Cardews, with whom he was raised, but of a handbag and the Brighton line at Victoria station. 


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Jack’s Handbag Symbol Timeline in The Importance of Being Earnest

The timeline below shows where the symbol Jack’s Handbag appears in The Importance of Being Earnest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3, Part 2
The Art of Deception: Fact v. Fiction  Theme Icon
Hypocrisy, Folly, and Victorian Morality  Theme Icon with the baby in the stroller and the manuscript for her three-volume-novel in a handbag. She conjectures that in a moment of absentmindedness she put the manuscript in the stroller... (full context)
The Art of Deception: Fact v. Fiction  Theme Icon
Name and Identity  Theme Icon
Upon hearing this detail, Jack feverishly asks Miss Prism about where she left the handbag. Whimpering, she admits to having left it in a coatroom at Victoria station on the... (full context)