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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Biography & Analysis of "The Importance of Being Ernest"

Rhonda Toney

on 11 December 2014

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Transcript of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
These plays were all highly acclaimed and firmly established Wilde as a playwright.
“A Woman of No Importance” (1893)
“An Ideal Husband” (1895)
“The Importance of Being Earnest” (1895)
Dublin, Ireland
October 16, 1854
Paris, France
November, 1900
In 1881, Oscar Wilde published his first volume of poetry, titled "Poems".
It originally received mixed reviews, but helped enough to move his career along.
May 29,1884, Oscar married Constance Lloyd
Two sons:
Cyril in 1885
Vyvyan in 1886
Later that year, a 50-lecture tour was scheduled to last four months, but stretched to nearly a year, with over 140 lectures given in 260 days.
Two collections of children's stories:
* “The Happy Prince and Other Tales” (1888)
* “The House of Pomegranates” (1892)
Oscar's first play,
“Lady Windermere's Fan,” opened in February 1892.
Its financial and critical success prompted him to continue to write for the theater.
Oscar Wilde's first and only novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray", published in an American magazine in 1890
Due to a storm of critical protest, he expanded the story and had it published in book form the following year.
Its implied homoerotic theme was considered very immoral by the Victorians.
Summer of 1891, Oscar met
Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas - they soon became lovers and were inseparable until Wilde's arrest four years later.
Oscar brought a libel suit against Bosie's father, Marquess of Queensberry, who had accused Wilde of immoral behavior. Wilde lost the suit and was found guilty of the charges. He went to prison for two years hard labor.
1854 - 1900
Constance & Cyril
The Importance of Being Earnest
Constance took the children to Switzerland and reverted to an old family name, “Holland.”
1898, Oscar wrote
“The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” a response to the agony he experienced from being in the 'Reading Gaol' prison.
He spent the last years of his life wandering Europe under the name of Sebastian Melmoth.
A recurrent ear infection became serious and meningitis set in and would cause his death.
Oscar Wilde died on November 30, 1900, at the age of 46.
A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
Jack and Algernon are best friends.
Algy causes a bit of mayhem and likes to do so, as if he does not like to follow the rules.
AKA John Worthing, Ernest
Moncrieff AKA Algy, Ernest
Fairfax, loves Ernest (Jack)
Cardew, loves Ernest (Algernon)
Lady Bracknell
AKA Aunt Augusta to Algy
Miss Prism
, Cecily's governess
Other Characters of the Play
Lane, Merriman, Chasuble
*Country Life
*Town Life
*Jack has a lot of land, a ward by the name of Cecily and a mysterious trouble-making brother, Ernest, that no one in his household has met.
*Jack receives message about Ernest, and then Jack has to go to town to take care of the trouble.
*He has a town house.
*Jack goes by Ernest in town.
*As Ernest, he is in love with Gwendolyn and proposes to her.
*Plans to tell Gwendolyn everything about his real name Jack.
*Town Life
*Algernon lives as if very well off, yet seems to have no money and is not responsible.
*Seems to eat often and more than his share at times.
*Has no desire to get married.
*Algernon's imaginary friend that seems to become sick very often. It is highly suggested the Algernon uses this friend as excuses to get out of socializing with the family probably as much as he possibly can get away with.
“Most of what gets written about the play … tends to ignore the important surface matters of name, appearance, and manner, and to point instead to the trivial moral matter of their both being deceivers.” (Sale)
*Gwendolyn is in love with Ernest (who is really Jack). She confesses to Jack that she always knew that she would marry someone named Ernest. Unfortunately for her, the Ernest she is in love with is really Jack.
*Cecily meets Ernest (who is really Algernon) and they fall in love. She confesses to Algernon that she always knew that she would marry someone named Ernest. Unfortunately for her, the Ernest she is in love with is really Algernon.
I thought it was interesting that he produced these children's stories during his children's youth!!
He had been married for six years when this was originally published!!
Interesting because Jack's made-up brother is a trouble-maker as well.
After watching the movie, I was strongly led to believe that Jack would sometimes misbehave in town in order to receive the messages while in the country.
Algernon does not act out the "Bunbury" character, just uses the name for his "friend"!!
However, could him portraying Ernest be the "Bunbury" character in action for him??
They are both deceivers!!!!!!
I loved it when both of the ladies said the exact same thing and neither of their fellows were actually named Ernest!!
For some reason, it reminded me of the movie series "Back to the Future", when some of the same type of conversations happened again and again!
Miss Prism's character is the one that will reveal some unknown secrets about Jack and the handbag that he was found in.
The one thing that bugged me about her secret -
I could not understand that Jack had never mentioned to her that he was found in a handbag and that he was adopted.
Miss Prism knew that Cecily was his ward so some type of conversation should have taken place. Maybe the truth could have been set free much earlier in his life!!!!
Wilde was released from prison in 1897, bankrupt and separated from his wife.
“Thus are the wives of famous men consigned to the shadows. In the case of Oscar Wilde, popular belief sees the gay man marrying for convenience (and children) before reverting to his true sexuality. Even his work has been over-shadowed by the image of a precious, witty, man-about-town, sporting a green carnation.”
“I have no doubt that Oscar Wilde genuinely loved her - at least, at first. And with good reason. Pretty, energetic, intelligent and talented, Constance Wilde is portrayed by her biographer as a thoroughly modern woman.” (Mooney)
“Ironically, the author of
The Importance Of Being Earnest
, and so many other works of genius, was once thought to be rather a ladies’ man. But that was before the green carnations, the monstrously egotistical affectations, the rent boys and Lord Alfred Douglas. (Mooney)
“Algernon delights in calling Jack a Bunburyist, but Jack loathes the idea.” (Sale)
“The sexual practices of which Wilde had become the representative figure in English minds were considered a threat to English well-being”. (Feldman)
The Importance of Being Earnest
is identified as “only a brushstroke away from a flattering portrait of the English gentleman”. (Feldman)
The women must have loved these men because even after they learned of their real names, they still wanted to marry them.
I wonder if the father's accusal was possibly to blame Wilde to take the focus off of his son!!
Ironic that Jack's made-up "town" name of Ernest turns out to be his name in the end. I am sure that made Gwendolyn happy!!
Ironic that Jack ends up with a trouble-making brother of Algernon, who pretended to be his brother while he was "Bunburying".
46!?!?!?! Wow, so young!!!
I am pretty close to this age!!!
I still can not believe that he passed at 46 years old!!
I loved all the twists and turns in this play. It was so full of ironies that I almost could not keep up and most were not expected. While reading, I knew that something very interesting was going to happen, but I never guessed accurately.
I believe that Algernon was my favorite character. I felt that his almost care-free personality may have been a type of self-reflection of Oscar while he was writing this play!!
I love this additional line! Is it to clear things up, just in case anyone gets a bit confused!?
Biography of Oscar Wilde
Analysis of "The Importance of Being Earnest"
By: RJ Toney
ENG 206
Final Project
Fall 2014
Full transcript