The Importance of Being Earnest: And Other Plays

Front Cover
Penguin Books USA, 1985 - Drama - 200 pages
The Importance of Being Earnest is one of Wilde's most famous plays and still commands the affection of the public through its cinematic adaptations; most recently with Reece Witherspoon and Colin Firth. In Earnest, Wilde uses a mixture of social drama; popular at the time and other popular but less politically engaged forms such as melodrama and farce. The use of gentle parody is probably what protected Wilde from the more biting attacks aimed at his contemporaries such as Henrik Ibsen and Thomas Hardy who commented to similar effect on the values and attitudes of Victorian society. Within the drama Wilde manages to satirise the values that many still believed were the very reason for the great triumphs of Victorian Britain on the world stage. These were the ideas of respectability, self sacrifice, moral rectitude and high mindedness that were closely associated with the Victorian aristocracy. Little by little however Wilde reveals all these to be simply elements of an elaborate mask worn by the ruling elites, behind which each is engaged in precisely the opposite modes of behaviour. In short the principle characters will go to any lengths to avoid their responsibilities and place self interest at the top of their own agendas. Through the literary techniques of dramatic irony parody and reversals Wilde reveals the moral hypocrisy at the heart of the Victorian establishment. -- Description from (June 5, 2012.).

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About the author (1985)

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. He later lived in London and married Constance Lloyd there in 1884. Wilde was a leader of the Aesthetic Movement. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazinein 1890. He published a revised and expanded edition in 1891 in response to negative reviews which criticised the book's immorality. Wilde became famous through of the immense success of his plays such as Lady Windemere's Fan(1892), An Ideal Husband(1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest(1895).

In 1985, after a public scandal involving Wilde's relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, he was sentenced to two years' hard labour in Reading Gaol for 'gross indecency'. His poem The Ballad of Reading Gaolwas based on his experiences in prison and was published in 1898. After his release, Wilde never lived in England again and died in Paris on 30 November 1900. He is buried in P re Lachaise cemetery

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