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Oscar the Owl

Tweet Twoooooo

Victoria Waddell

on 7 May 2014

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Transcript of Oscar the Owl

Physiognomy in Art & Literature
Hi, I'm Oscar the Wilde Owl
and I am here to lead you
through our presentation!


20. From which religion did the idea of the Easter bunny stem?
a) Christianity
b) Judiasm
c) Paganism
1. What nationality was Oscar Wilde?
2. What does Lord Goring represent in society?

3. Who is ushered into Lord Goring’s Drawing Room?
4. What organization does Lady Chiltern work for/attend?
5. Which tapestry hangs in the Chilterns' Octagon Room?
6. Date of first publication?
7. What days did Tommy propose to Mabel during the season?
8. How else could the brooch from Act 3 be worn?
9. Who did the brooch originally belong to?
10. What colour paper did Lady Chiltern write her letter to Lord Goring on?
11. which artist would have loved to paint Mrs Marchmont and Lady Basildon? (act 1)
12. Who did Lord Goring describe as 'a genius in the daytime and a beauty at night'?
13. Who is describes as 'intensely admired by the few, and deeply respected By the many’?
14. How many years was Oscar Wilde sentenced to hard labour?
15. What were Oscar Wilde's final words (allegedly)?
16. How many days passed between Jesus' death and resurrection?
17. Which American President was assassinated on Good Friday in 1865?
18. Who discovered Jesus was missing from the tomb?
19. Why do people decorate and roll hard boiled eggs at Easter?
- Lord Goring often draws a clear distinction between the role of men and women in society and in marriage
- Sir Robert's political career is threatened by the corruption of his youth.
- One of the play's ironies is that the happy ending relies on Sir Robert's corruption remaining hidden from public view.
- The offer of a cabinet seat would never stand if the public had knowledge of his past. Yet, because he successfully hides this past, he feels absolved of his crime. Even Lady Chiltern forgives him for it.
- Wilde’s criticism of emerging political background/foresight of future politics?
- The morals of many people, and some of the plays major characters,
are based more on the fear of public detection and
retaining social status than on pure values of right and wrong.
Political Examples
Gender Examples
- Social commentary of woman:
Sir Robert proposes that women are highly complex – ‘science quote, act 1’
- Lord Goring gives a speech to Lady Chiltern about
the role of women in society and in marriage,
stressing the importance of supporting a husband in
pursuing what he loves rather than stifling his desires – ‘act 4)
Codes of Conduct & Their Achilles

#firstworldproblems and Decadence

The Art of Living

Political Prestige and Gender

Paradoxical Ponderings

Physiognomy in Art & Literature
Jane Aster, The Habits of Good Society: A Handbook for Ladies and Gentlemen (New York: Late Rudd and Carleton, 1869)
'Then he proposed to me in broad daylight this morning, in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles. Really the things that go on in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles.'
-Oscar Wilde, ‘An Ideal Husband’ in Peter Raby eds. 'The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 201.
‘A virtuous character is likened to an unblemished flower. Piety is a fadeless bud that half opens on earth, and expands through eternity Sweetness of temper is the odor of fresh blooms, and the amaranth flowers of pure affection open but to bloom forever.’
- Dorothea L. Dix, 'The Garland of Flora', (Boston: S.G. Goodrich and Co. and Carter and Hendee, 1829), p. 26.
'Don't think I quite like this buttonhole, Phipps. Makes me look a little too old. Makes me almost in the prime of my life, eh, Phipps?'
-Oscar Wilde, ‘An Ideal Husband’ in Peter Raby eds. 'The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 213.
The octagon room at Sir Robert Chiltern’s house in Grosvenor Square.
The room is brilliantly lighted and full of guests [including the Vicomte de Nanjac, the Duchess of Maryborough, and Mabel Chiltern]. At the top of the staircase stands Lady Chiltern, a woman of grave Greek beauty, about twenty-seven years of age. She receives the guests as they come up. [Mason stand in the background]. Over the well of the staircase hangs a great chandelier with wax lights, which illumine a large eighteenth-century French tapestry—representing the Triumph of Love, from a design by Boucher—that is stretched on the staircase well. On the right is the entrance to the music-room. The sound of a string quartette is faintly heard. The entrance on the left leads to other reception-rooms. Mrs. Marchmont and Lady Basildon, two very pretty women, are seated together on a Louis Seize sofa. They are types of exquisite fragility. Their affectation of manner has a delicate charm.
Watteau would have loved to paint them.
-Oscar Wilde, ‘An Ideal Husband’ in Peter Raby eds. 'The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 165.
La Boudeuse (The Capricious Girl)
The Pilgrimage to Cythera
Jean Antoine Watteau
‘not reminiscent of any work of art. But she really is like a Tanagra statuette’
-Oscar Wilde, ‘An Ideal Husband’ in Peter Raby eds. 'The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 165.
Tanagra Statuette
'It would be inaccurate to call him picturesque. Picturesqueness cannot survive the House of Commons. But Van-dyck would have liked to have painted his head.'
-Oscar Wilde, ‘An Ideal Husband’ in Peter Raby eds. 'The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays', (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 168.
Anthony van Dyck
The Taking of Samson
‘Decadence has always been made to function as a presumed mode of behavior or action that stands as evidence of a withdrawal from normality.’
Gilman, Richard. Decadence: The Strange Life of an Epithet. N.Y.: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1979. 159.
Mrs Cheveley: The art of living. The only really Fine Art we have produced in modern times.
Act 2, 676-677.
Lady Basildon: I don't see anybody here tonight whom one could could possibly call a serious purpose.
Act 1, 13-15.
Lady Basildon: I delight in talking politics. I talk them all day long. But I can’t bear listening to them.
Act 1, 304-305.
‘[The Decadent] expresses his contempt for prevailing values and sensibilities and asserts his sense of superiority and the amorality of art.’
Cohen, Philip. John Evelyn Barlas, A Critical Biography: Poetry, Anarchism, and Mental Illness in Late-Victorian Britain. Rivendale Press, 2012. 215.
Foundations of Aestheticism
l'art pour l'art: art for art (Benjamin Constant, 1804)
Oscar Wilde promoted the Aesthetic movement towards the end of the nineteenth century
Wilde’s humanistic aesthetics, concerned with the self and the individual, advocated by Walter Pater
From the Preface to Dorian Gray:
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
Wilde contradicted the convention in which the arts were supposed to be spiritually uplifting and instructive, then went a step further and stated that the artist's life was even more important than any work that he produced.
MRS CHEVELY: … Fathers have so much to learn from their sons.
LADY MARKBY: Really, dear? What?
The art of living. The only really Fine Art we have produced in modern times
. (Act 2, p.207)
Dandyism and Decadence
Lord Goring
Thirty four, but
always says he is younger
. A well-bred, expressionless face. He is clever, but would not like to be thought so.
A flawless dandy,
he would be annoyed if he were considered romantic. He plays with life, and is on perfectly good terms with the world.
He is fond of being misunderstood.
It gives him a post of vantage (Act 1, p.171)
LORD CAVERSHAM: Can’t make out how you stand London Society. The thing has gone to the dogs, a
lot of damned nobodies talking about nothing.
LORD GORING: I love talking about nothing, father. It is the only thing I know anything about.
LORD CAVERSHAM: You seem to me to be
living entirely for pleasure.
LORD GORING: What else is there to live for, father? Nothing ages like happiness. (Act 1, p.173-4)
MRS MARCHMONT: Well, we are not going to praise her. I hear she went to the Opera on Monday night, and told Tommy Rufford at supper that, as far as she could see,
London Society was entirely made up of dowdies and dandies.
(Act 1, p.175)
LORD GORING: She is quite right, too.
The men are all dowdies and the women are all dandies, aren’t they?
(Act 1, p.175)
Scene: Morning-room at Sir Robert Chiltern’s house. Lord Goring,
dressed in the height of fashion
, is lounging in an armchair. Sir Robert Chiltern is standing in front of the fireplace. He is evidently in a great state of mental excitement and distress. As the scene progresses he paces nervously up and down the room (Act 2, p.190)
LORD GORING: […] So, at least, I’m always being told at the club by people who are
bald enough to know better
. (Act 2, 190)
Definition: An apparently absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition, or a strongly counter-intuitive one, which investigation, analysis, or explanation may nevertheless prove to be well-founded or true.
‘Wilde enjoyed being both a witty dandy and a conventional husband and father. Wilde believed that both roles helped him to experience life more fully’
Horan, Patrick. M. (1997) The Importance of being Paradoxical, Associated university Press: London
‘To be entirely free, and at the same time entirely determined by the law, is the eternal paradox of human life that we realise at every moment’
‘Wilde’s turn to paradoxes connected with his sexual reorientation after 1886, which implied a double life, and a consequence a growing personal understanding of ambivalence, contradiction, irony and paradox’
Breuer, Rolf (1993) Paradox in Oscar Wilde Irish University Review, Vol 23 no 2 (autumn – winter) pgs 224-235
SIR ROBERT CHILTERN: There was your mistake. There was your error. The error all women commit. Why can’t you women love us, faults and all?

Why do you place us on monstrous pedestals? We have all feet of clay, women as well as men: but when we men love women, we love them knowing their weaknesses, their follies, their imperfections, love them all the more, it may be, for that reason.
It is not the perfect, but the imperfect, who have need of love. It is when we are wounded by our own hands, or by the hands of others, that
love should come to cure us
– else what use is love at all? All sins, except a sin against itself,
Love should forgive
All lives, save loveless lives,
true Love should pardon.

A man’s love is like that.

It is wider, larger, more human than a woman’s.
Women think that they are making ideals of men. What they are making of us are false idols merely.

You made your false idol of me, and I had not the courage to come down, show you my wounds, tell you my weaknesses. I was afraid that I might lose your love, as I have lost it now.
And so last night you ruined my life for me - yes, ruined it!
What this woman asked of me was nothing compared to what she offered to me. She offered security, peace, stability. The sin of my youth, that I thought was buried, rose up in front of me, hideous, horrible, with its hands at my throat. I could have killed it for ever, sent it back into its tomb, destroyed its record, burned the one witness against me. You prevented me. No one but you, you know it. And now what is there before me but public disgrace, ruin, terrible shame, the mockery of the world, a lonely dishonoured life, a lonely dishonoured death, it maybe, some day? Let women make no more ideals of men! let them not put them on alters and bow before them, or they may ruin other lives as completely as you – you whom I have so wildly loved – have ruined mine! (Act 2, lines 815-844)
What! Had I fallen so low in your eyes that you thought that even for a moment I could have doubted your goodness?
Gertrude, Gertrude, you are to me the white image of all good things, and sin can never touch you.
(Act 4, lines 553-556)
Full transcript