The Importance of Being Earnest

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The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line Symbol Analysis

The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line Symbol Icon
The coatroom at Victoria Station is a symbol for Jack’s lack of family “relations” and unknown origins. The Brighton Line is Wilde’s play on the notion of a family bloodline. Instead of having a lineage to his name, Jack has a place of origin and a train line to his credit, underlining the obscurity of his roots as well as the ridiculous value characters like Lady Bracknell place on family "lines".

The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line Quotes in The Importance of Being Earnest

The The Importance of Being Earnest quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line. 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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Act 3, Part 1 Quotes

Mr. Worthing, is Miss Cardew at all connected with any of the larger railway stations in London? I merely desire information. Until yesterday I had no idea that there were any families or persons whose origin was a Terminus.

Related Characters: Lady Bracknell (speaker), Jack, Cecily Cardew
Related Symbols: The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

When Lady Bracknell discovers that Algernon is engaged to Cecily, she demands to know her lineage. Since Algernon is her nephew, anyone that he marries is associated with her, too, and she does not want to mar her social capital with relatives who marry below their stature. Lady Bracknell speaks extremely condescendingly to everyone around her, as her status and social-climbing sensibilities mean that she is constantly trying to impress people with her aristocracy and wealth. Wilde writes many witty, self-defeating lines for Lady Bracknell, as she is the character who most obviously parodies the worst tendencies of the aristocratic class in Victorian society. Her question as to whether Cecily is associated with any of the "larger railway stations" is very dry satire regarding what Lady Bracknell previously learned about Jack being found in the cloakroom as a baby. For Lady Bracknell, allowing anyone in her family to marry into such appalling lineage would be "the end"—hence her scathing comment about someone whose "origin," or lineage, is a "Terminus," or a train terminal. 

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The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line Symbol Timeline in The Importance of Being Earnest

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Coatroom at Victoria Station and The Brighton Line appears in The Importance of Being Earnest. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Part 2
The Pursuit of Marriage  Theme Icon
Cash, Class, and Character Theme Icon
...He was found tucked in a handbag in a cloak roam at the Victoria railway station on the Brighton line. Lady Bracknell finds this lineage to be an unacceptable pedigree—“the line... (full context)
Act 3, Part 2
The Art of Deception: Fact v. Fiction  Theme Icon
Name and Identity  Theme Icon
...left the handbag. Whimpering, she admits to having left it in a coatroom at Victoria station on the Brighton line. Excited, Jack rushes out of the room and returns onstage with... (full context)