Oscar Wilde


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Oscar Wilde

  1. 1. Oscar Wilde<br />
  2. 2. Biography<br />Born in Dublin<br />father physician<br />mother writer (poetry/prominent figure in Dublin literary society)<br />Excelled in classical literature (Trinity C.)<br />Scholarship to Magdalen College (Oxford)<br />Famous for:<br />brilliant conversation – barbed and clever wit<br /> flamboyant manner of dress & behavior<br />“Dandy” figure based himself<br />
  3. 3. Bio - contiuned<br />Student of “aesthetic movement” – which rejected older Victorian insistence on moral purposed of art <br />Celebrated value of “art for art’s sake<br />Settled in London<br />Mocked Victorian notions about moral seriousness of great art<br />Treated art as the “supreme reality” and treated life as “fiction”<br />
  4. 4. Witicisms:<br />“I have nothing to declare except my genius.”<br />“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”<br />“A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.”<br />
  5. 5. Scandal<br />Was married with 2 children<br />Still didn’t hide his relations with men<br />1891 began a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas<br />Accused by the man’s father of being a homosexual<br />Wilde sued for libel, lost and was arrested.<br />1895 famous trial, <br />he suffered a dramatic downfall <br />imprisoned after being convicted of "gross indecency" for homosexual acts.<br />
  6. 6. Death<br />Lived remaining years in France<br />Died in 1900<br />Buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery<br />Ie: same cemetery as Jim Morrison of “The Doors”<br />
  7. 7. “Importance of Being Earnest”<br />Form: Play; farce.<br />Summary: <br />Two young dandies seek marriages with two young women. <br />Identity, character, personality, and ideals are tenuous and ephemeral.<br />Themes: <br />Appearance is more important than substance<br />lies are more real than truth<br />Victorian society is based on false appearances <br />Ideals such as honesty, morality, and sincerity are meaningless.<br />
  8. 8. Key passages<br />“Nothing will induce me to part with Bunbury, and if you ever get married, which seems to me extremely problematic, you will be very glad to know Bunbury. A man who marries without knowing Bunbury has a very tedious time of it”<br />“To be born, or at any rate, bred in a handbag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?”<br />“I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy”<br />“The home seems to me to be the proper sphere for the man. And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate, does he not?”<br />“We live, I regret to say, in an age of surfaces”; “He has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire?”<br />“It is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth,” . <br />
  9. 9. Other Notes…<br />What is the meaning of the title?<br />Multiple meanings concerning identity and concepts such as sincerity can be wrung out of Earnest/Ernest <br />social truths such as the “importance of a name” in high society can be inferred<br />The Victorian middle class was known for its earnestness and for its elevation of qualities such as duty, honesty, and hard work. <br />The play dismantles these revered concepts<br />a topsy-turvy universe in which lies have a fundamental truth to them and the truth has no value at all<br />characters are perfectly happy to reside in a realm of false appearances. <br />How does humor undermine Victorian social convention?<br />Lady Bracknell, the play’s strongest representative of upper-class sham propriety. <br />“Algernon is an extremely, I may almost say an ostentatiously, eligible man. He has nothing, but he looks everything. What more can one desire?” <br />Lady Bracknell’s comments here parody Victorian society by their overt concern with style over substance.<br />
  10. 10. More notes<br />Gwendolyn’s speech to Jack similarly lampoons the idealism of the age: <br />“We live, as I hope you know, Mr. Worthing, in an age of ideals . . . and my ideal has always been to love someone of the name of Ernest.” <br />In order to emphasize the arbitrariness of social values, Wilde gives us characters whose values are always relative, changeable, and self-serving<br />especially those connected with the central Victorian institutions of marriage and the family. <br />Jack and Algernon, find ways to escape from identities imposed on them by a rule-bound society:<br />anarchic self-invention <br />facility with a liberating, epigrammatic language that seems to spontaneously create a world of its own <br />albeit one based just as much on appearances as the one it overturns. <br />