The House of Mirth and The Picture of Dorian Gray

In both novels, the authors explore the theme of confinement, portraying it as significant when considering how and to what extent social conventions are harmful in their influence on morality. In, majority of the characters are restricted with their own self-imposed rules on behaviour. Failure to comply would result in ostracization. Wharton conveys this imprisonment … Read more

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

A Marxist criticism on The Importance of Being Earnest

“Excuse me Geoffrey, could you get me some more water. I’m terribly thirsty, and the weather out here isn’t doing any good for my complexion,” declares the man as he sighs in exhaustion. “Right away sir, anything else?” proclaims the servant. “No that will be all.” says the man as he waves off the servant. … Read more

‘Tess of D’Urbervilles’ and the Victorian Era

Introduction The MA dissertation ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles, an unfair existence’ deals with the problematic of Victorian women, analyzed in Thomas Hardy’s novel, ‘Tess of D’Urbervilles. The project is an attempt to find some answers about the women’s roles in a patriarchal society ruled and dominated by men. The analysis also focused on the Christian prejudices … 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.


Famous works:

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891):

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde published in 1891. It tells the story of a young man, Dorian Gray, who sells his soul to remain young and beautiful for eternity. Dorian is influenced by Lord Henry Wotton, who encourages him to live a life of pleasure and indulgence. Dorian’s wish is granted, and he remains young and attractive while his portrait ages and reflects his immoral lifestyle. Eventually, Dorian realizes the consequences of his actions, and he attempts to destroy the portrait. However, his attempt fails, and his sins remain with him forever.

Key topics when writing essays on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’:

  1. The power and consequences of vanity: The Picture of Dorian Gray is ultimately a cautionary tale about the power of vanity, and how it can lead to destruction and despair. Discuss the consequences of Dorian’s vanity, how it led to his moral decline, and how it affected his relationships with others.
  2. The influence of Lord Henry Wotton: Lord Henry is a major influence on Dorian, and his philosophy of hedonism has a profound effect on Dorian’s behavior and outlook. Analyze the impact of Lord Henry’s words on Dorian, and how his ideas of pleasure and beauty corrupted Dorian’s values.
  3. The role of art and aesthetics: Art and aesthetics play a major role in the play, and can be seen as a metaphor for Dorian’s life. Discuss how art is used as a vehicle for Dorian’s moral decline, and how it reflects his inner corruption.
  4. The themes of morality and redemption: The story of Dorian Gray deals heavily with themes of morality and redemption. Discuss the various moral choices that Dorian made throughout the play, and how his decisions ultimately lead to his downfall. Explore the possibility of redemption, and how Dorian’s story serves as a warning.

Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892):

Lady Windermere’s Fan is a play written by Oscar Wilde and first performed in 1892. The play tells the story of Lady Windermere, who discovers that her husband is having an affair with another woman. She is stunned and humiliated, and she decides to leave her husband in order to protect her reputation. Meanwhile, her friend, Lord Darlington, encourages her to stay with her husband and forgive him. As the play progresses, Lady Windermere learns the truth about the other woman and realizes that her husband is not to blame. Eventually, she returns to her husband, and both couples reconcile.

Key topics when writing essays on ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’:

  1. Themes of Respectability and Decorum: Discuss how Wilde uses the idea of respectability and decorum to discuss the social mores of Victorian society. Consider how Wilde uses the characters to show the consequences of living outside the bounds of social respectability.
  2. Marriage and Adultery: Explore the roles of marriage and adultery in the play, and how Wilde uses them to convey his ideas about the institution of marriage in Victorian society.
  3. Reputation and Conformity: Analyze the role of reputation and conformity in the play, and how Wilde uses these themes to critique Victorian society.
  4. Gender Roles: Examine how Wilde uses gender roles to convey his ideas about the roles and expectations of men and women in Victorian society.
  5. Power Dynamics: Analyze the different power dynamics between characters, particularly between men and women, and how these power dynamics are used to critique Victorian society.
  6. Social Class: Examine how Wilde uses social class to critique Victorian society, and explore how characters of different social classes interact with each other.
  7. Humor: Consider how Wilde uses humor in the play to convey his ideas about Victorian society, and to make his points about the clash between conformity and individualism.

The Importance of Being Earnest (1895):

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde, first performed in 1895. The play tells the story of two young men, Jack and Algernon, who adopt the false identities of “Ernest” in order to escape the pressures of their lives. Jack pretends to be Earnest in order to win the affections of Gwendolen, while Algernon pretends to be Earnest in order to visit Cecily, Jack’s ward. As the play progresses, the deception unravels, and the characters must face the consequences of their actions. In the end, the couples marry and Jack reveals his true identity.

Key topics when writing essays on ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’:

  1. Satire of Victorian Society: The play is a scathing satire of Victorian society and its conventions. It ridicules the upper classes, their obsession with propriety and social mobility, and their hypocritical view of morality.
  2. Gender Roles: The play makes a statement about the roles of men and women in the Victorian era. It highlights the absurdities of the roles that were expected of them and the restrictions that were placed on their behavior.
  3. Identity and the Self: The play examines the idea of the self and identity. It suggests that one’s identity is determined by the presentation of the self, which is often false or superficial.
  4. Social Class: The play is a commentary on the way in which social class dictates one’s place in society and the expectations of one’s behavior.
  5. Language and Wit: Wilde’s use of language and wit are integral to the play. He employs humor and irony to make his points about society and its conventions.
  6. Marriage and Love: The play is a critique of the marriage institution and explores the idea of true love and the dangers of marrying for convenience.
  7. Religion: The play also makes a statement about the role of religion in society and how it can be used to manipulate and control people’s behavior.