Abandoning Pretense: Oscar Wilde’s Engagement with Society

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Charles Tyler Allen (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site: http://library.unca.edu/
David Hopes

Abstract: In this paper,the author seeks to explain why Wilde might have chosen to write, The Importance of Being Earnest, a comedy about the triviality of Victorian society only to reinforce its values by the play’s conclusion. Through establishing the cultural context in which Earnest was written, the paper emphasizes the conditional leniency that high society granted to the violators of its principles, insofar as the characters in the play are allowed to transgress social norms in private as long as they adhere to established social and legal boundaries in public. By examining the fictional relationships between Wilde’s characters and their society, the author seeks to explain Wilde’s insistence on abandoning social conventions only to reinforce them at the play’s conclusion.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Victorian values, social norms

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