The Importance of Being Earnest – aristocratic society & Victorian attitudes

Webster’s dictionary defines earnest as “characterized by or proceeding from an intense and serious state of mind,” a definition that is subject to total upheaval in The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde uses satire to ridicule marriage, love, and the mentality of the Victorian aristocratic society in the play. George Bernard Shaw criticized the play saying, … Read more

Victorian Society and theme of deception in The Importance of Being Earnest

Humans deceive one another through their actions, and through what they say. Oscar Wilde mocks Britain’s society and the rules it follows in the 1800s. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde uses satire throughout the play to show a truth about Victorian Society and the human condition. Wilde satirizes the upper class through paradoxes. … Read more

Pride and Prejudice and The Importance of Being Earnest

Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice and Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, present opinions on society through irony, wordplay and characterization. The central themes of society that influence both texts include the significance of hierarchy and societal class, how love and courtship is either financially beneficial or true passion and how first … Read more

Comparing attitudes to women in literature (critical + reflective)

CRITICAL ESSAY (DISSERTATION LEVEL WORK) The title of Oscar Wilde’s play ‘A Woman of No Importance’ is enough to make the modern feminist reader scowl in contempt – all women are important and are equal to every man. But if the modern audience (and audience at the time of production) look past the title, it … Read more

About Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, born in Dublin, Ireland on October 16, 1854, was perhaps one of the most influential actors, poets, and playwrights in the Victorian Era. Wilde’s witty drama reflected much of his own life, exploring the concept of “truth” and its role in shaping the Victorian society. His fame primarily results from a few of his important plays: A Woman of No Importance (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). The themes of these plays were built around his personal criticism and whimsical satire of the Victorian society–especially in regards to the upper class. However, with these works being published, many of Wilde’s personal values were put at stake.

The Victorian Era ran in the United Kingdom during the period of Queen Victoria’s reign. The new wealth that came with expansion created new class structures as an age of domesticity was inspired and, of course, as society to change, so did forms of art. Wilde was especially known for his involvement in the aestheticism movement, which particularly served to rebel against the ideas of a “modest” Victorian society and worked to dismantle Britain’s overbearing and conservative Victorian traditions. With this movement in place, literature had now introduced new themes; nostalgia, industrialization, and class being a few of them.

Wilde had actually gone to study the classics and ideologies of aestheticism in 1871 at Trinity College. By 1874, he had transferred to Oxford and began to study under Walter Pater, a proponent of the new school of aestheticism, and John Ruskin, a social theorist. Wilde went on to graduate from Oxford in 1878, where he was awarded the Newdigate prize for his poem, Ravana. Wilde received his bachelor’s degree with top honors in classical moderations and classics. He went on to publish his first volume of poems of 1881, making him famous enough to be criticized and mocked in a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera. This opera was entitled Patience and was displayed publicly at the Opera Comique on April 23, 1881. This also happened to be the first opera in the world to be entirely lit by an electric light.

Upon his graduation, Wilde had moved to London; however, with the death of his father that had taken place, he was forced to commence a tour in the United States in 1882. Here, Ilde was known for making his currently most famous statement, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” He advocated the aestheticism movement immensely on his tour by presenting himself with exuberance and dressing in what was considered to be a flamboyant style. He pushed to spread awareness on the philosophy of the aesthetic, claiming that art should be solely for art’s sake, or it would be deemed as useless.

During his tour in New York, Wilde published his first play, Vera, or the Nihilists, in 1883. However, this play was very unsuccessful. On the opening night, the play had started off well. There were calls for the author after the first act and at this time and applause after the second, where Wilde had stepped forward to take his bows. During the opening night, it seemed that Vera was generally well received and Oscar received great recognition at the approach of his words of appreciation. However, reviews of the show had made made contrasting acknowledgements. Critics had questioned him greatly, describing it as an “energetic tirade against tyrants and despots. . .” (New York Times). Another critic from the New York Times stated, “A dramatist. . .who puts a gang of Nihilists upon the state, on the ground that they are interesting characters of the time and that their convictions make them dramatic, does so at his own peril.” The New York Herald also described Vera as “. . .long-drawn, dramatic rot, a series of disconnected essays and sickening rant, with a coarse and common kind of cleverness”. Shortly after these reviews were published, the play was cancelled and no longer performed on Broadway.

In 1884, Wilde wedded a bashful and rich woman from Ireland named Constance Lloyd and the two later moved into an opulent loft in London. During this time, Wilde quickly altered Woman’s World magazine while composing a gathering of fantasies and various papers, which explained his way of taking part in aestheticism. While Wilde had been socially and expertly connected to affirmed people of good taste (such as Max Beerbohm, Arthur Symons, and Aubrey Beardsley), he was an open commentator of the sort of reductive stylish theory communicated in the acclaimed diary, The Yellow Book. Liking to investigate his own contemplations about craftsmanship and legislative issues through eccentric readings of Plato, Shakespeare, and contemporary painting, Wilde had a group of friends which included a different cast of characters, among them artists, painters, theater identities, erudite people, and London “lease young men”.

At this time, Wilde went on to produce a series of new works. While Vera was rendered unsuccessful, Wilde had a variety of works that were prosperous. All through the 1890s, Wilde turned into a commonly recognized name with the distribution of his artful culmination novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray–a Faustian story about excellence and youth–just as a string of exceptionally effective plays, including Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), and An Ideal Husband (1895). His last play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), is viewed as the first present day satire of habits. At this point, Wilde’s style–being his lavish appearance, refined mind, and sweet talking voice–had made him a standout amongst London’s most looked for dinner party visitors.

Things were beginning to look up for Wilde until 1891, where he became charmed by the excellent youthful writer Lord Alfred Douglas (known as “Bosie”). The dynamic among Bosie and Wilde was unsteady under the most favorable circumstances, and the pair regularly split for a considerable length of time before consenting to rejoin. All things considered, the relationship expended Wilde’s own life, to the degree that the sexual idea of their kinship had turned into a matter of open information. However, homosexuality brought intense aversion to the Victorian society. In 1895, Douglas’ dad, the Marquess of Queensbury, blamed Wilde for homosexuality. Wilde answered by accusing Queensbury of slander. It became an immense ordeal thereafter. Queensbury found a few of Wilde’s letters to Bosie, just as other implicating proof. In a second preliminary regularly alluded to as “the preliminary of the century,” the author was discovered liable of “disgusting acts” and was condemned to two years of hard work and imprisoned in England’s Reading Gaol.

In 1897, while spending his time in prison, Wilde composed De Profundis, an examination of his freshly discovered perspective of spirituality. After his discharge, he moved to France under an accepted name. He composed The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898 and distributed two letters on the poor states of jail. One of the letters helped change a law to keep kids from detainment; however, while still publishing works, his new life in France, nonetheless, filled with pure desolation.

Wilde passed away November 30, 1900 of meningitis at the age of 46. He held his epigrammatic mind until his final gasp. He is supposed to have said of the boring foundation that, between the terrible backdrop and himself, “One of us needs to go.” As of late, prominent regards for Wilde have been brought into revival. Different executives have created films dependent on his plays and life, and his works remain a wellspring of analyses and reflections on aestheticism, profound quality, and society. With his major involvement with aestheticism, Oscar Wilde serves as a prominent figure in the Victorian literary time period, even to this day.

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