Rev. Canon Chasuble D.D.

What kind of behavior do you expect from your church leader? Are you surprised when you see glimpses of the real person behind the role?

In the play ''The Importance of Being Earnest'' by Oscar Wilde, Dr. Frederick Chasuble is the reverend who is hired by both Jack, the protagonist, and Algernon, Jack's future bride's first cousin, to christen them under the name Ernest to please their romantic partners. The initials after his name stand for “Doctor of Divinity.”

Although he is a minor character, Dr. Chasuble's conflicted feelings about his responsibilities as a reverend versus his suppressed romantic desires add to the theme of maintaining public and private personas. Let's find out more about this character. Rector, Chasuble frequently visits Jack's country house to see Miss Prism. Dr. Chasuble first enters the play in the second act, interrupting the lessons of Cecily, Jack's ward, with her governess, Miss Prism.  It is apparent that Dr. Chasuble has feelings for Miss Prism, but both parties are a bit uptight and terrible at flirting, so Cecily helps them out by suggesting they go for a walk. By the time they return from their walk, Chasuble is explaining that he will never marry because it would be contrary to the beliefs of the church. Further, he jokes that married men aren't attractive to anyone, not even their wives. This man versus self-conflict defines Chasuble's role in the play.

He is a source of Victorian moral judgments, as well as Miss Prism, but deep inside he isn’t that bad. He appears to be an old lecher. His sermons are interchangeable, moreover they sometimes mock religious conventions. He always does everything Jack wants; he is like a servant. He performs weddings, christenings, sermons, funerals, and so on. Nevertheless, under all those religious exterior, his heart beats for Miss Prism.

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Rev. Canon Chasuble D.D. in the Essays