A New Historical Reading of Oscar Wilde’s the Importance of Being Earnest Essay

2005 Words9 Pages
A New Historical Reading of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest Ali Wyman 4/26/12 In order to really appreciate Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, one must first consider the historical context in which the text was written, taking into account the world the author lived in, his personal experiences, and the discourses of the text. In the late 19th century Victorian society, in which The Importance of Being Earnest was written, culture was starting to shift from the traditional constructs under Queen Victoria that insisted on etiquette, propriety, and above all, knowing one’s place in society, to a more modern tone; a tone that was all but blasphemy to conventional Victorians. A look at the life of Oscar Wilde, for example, reveals a number of significant themes that can be found within his work, namely The Importance of Being Earnest, a production, as Wilde himself called it, that is “exquisitely trivial, a delicate bubble of fancy, and it has its philosophy… that we should treat all the trivial things of life seriously, and all the serious and studied things of life with sincere and studied triviality.” Wilde challenged Victorian culture and supposed serious things like social standing, class, and identity throughout his life, with language in his plays portraying them as extremely trivial, as well as by pushing the envelope in his own personal life. The world in which Oscar Wilde grew up is very central to the themes represented in The Importance of Being Earnest. Victorian culture believed that social standing and class distinctions were up the utmost importance. Wilde himself was born in 1854 to Sir William Robert Wilde and Jane Frances, who later changed her name to Speranza Francesca, both of which were prolific writers and “notable figures of their right” (Wilde, 1818). Wilde was raised in the upper middle class and

More about A New Historical Reading of Oscar Wilde’s the Importance of Being Earnest Essay

Open Document