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Oscar Wilde

Theme Analysis
Author Biography
Picture Gallery
Theme Analysis
Imagery Analysis
Literary Devices
Topics of Related Interest
Helpful Resources for Student
Other Writers Influenced by Wilde
Influence on World Literature
Wilde's Literary Movement
Multimedia Links
Other great sites, genres
Major Works
Works Cited
Excerpt from The Importance of Being Earnest
"Algernon. I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.
Jack. I have no doubt about that, dear Algy. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.
Algernon. Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. Divorces are made in Heaven - [Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Algernon at once interferes.] Please don’t touch the cucumber sandwiches. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. [Takes one and eats it.]"
        Oscar Wilde's first major work, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the theme of the loss of innocence and the desire for mortality appeared in 1981. During that point in his life, he believed that the evil that was present deep inside of him could not be controlled. In addition, what prompted him to write the novel was the fact that he did not want to explore the theme within the boundaries of the small fairytales that he had been producing before. Now, he wanted to focus on a dark and sinister novel that would end tragically. The title of the book suggests that the central character, Dorian is one who is grey, where his childlike innocence is gradually corrupted with the cares of society. Dorian continues to obsess over his beauty, causing his spirit to be filled with vanity that will lead to evil. Towards the end of the novel, Dorian can no longer bear the evil that has taken over him and accidentally kills himself. The theme conveys the consequences of immortality as it demonstrates what happens to someone who can not control their evil impulses.               
        Furthermore, in The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde discusses the theme of marriage. In the play, two sets of characters explore the emotional benefits to the human experience. Wilde ridicules the feminine ideal of love and marriage. Simultaneously, he portrays the men as villains who denounce everything that involves marriage. In addition, Wilde creates a paradox of a man who is called Earnest, whose personality is not really earnest. Oscar Wilde utilized the play to mock Victorian Society and the way people take themselves too seriously by living with the morals and standards imposed by society.
        Moreover, Wilde revisits the theme of the loss of innocence in the play as well. The adults act like babies who are playing grown ups in real-life scenarios. He and the other characters, though physically look like adults are mentally still stuck in their childhoods as they innocently imitate the behavior of adults. Thus, their attempts to marry can also be viewed as attempts to duplicate the behavior of grown-ups. Earnest and Algernon's actions are indeed babyish until the game is interrupted by real life and they face the consequences.

Jessica Leu
Coral Gabes Senior High
12th grade IB