This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Victorian Truth: Oscar Wilde’s Revelations Of The Aristocratic Lifestyle

1667 words - 7 pages

While it is widely understood now that Victorian society was one of excess and frivolity, it most certainly seemed legitimate to members of high society at the time. However, this was not the case with Oscar Wilde, who in his final play made mockery of his countrymen by satirizing the way in which they lived. This play, entitled The Importance of Being Earnest, follows the courtship of two young girls and exaggerates the absurd formalities of such a process in high society. The characters are shallow and delusional as a result of their upbringing, and collectively their words bring harsh criticism to the British upper class. These characters can be split into two clear categories. The majority, which is comprised of characters raised as orthodox aristocrats, is completely engrained with its ideals, primarily that of aesthetics over morals. These characters are in many ways like machines; so thorough is their connection with high society that they cannot function as individuals. In the other group, the minority, are those characters who would be referred to as “dandies” in Wilde’s time. They have retained their individuality, and use it seek their own slice of aristocratic influence. But by becoming so involved with high society they subject themselves to its triviality, and ultimately become as mechanical as their peers. In this way Wilde shows Victorian life to be corrupting rather than beneficial. Rather than a leading group in society, it’s obsession with luxury twists the upper class into meaningless robots. It is true that the aristocracy hold money and power, but there is an emptiness present that far outweighs the gains.
Surely the members of the aristocracy who are the most empty are those who have been raised as members of the upper class. Having been born into the most powerful social class, they have no aspiration, and have developed no sense of right and wrong. They have developed fictional occupations of their time, and are numbed as individuals that it has become a source of comedy. While the majority of characters fit this mold, Wilde creates a mother-daughter pair of Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen who serve as the ultimate stereotype of inherited class. Entering the play in a grand entrance, they quickly display to the audience a lack of individuality. Gwendolen’s first line sums up her position in society, when she insists that to be perfect would “leave no room for developments,” and that she “intends to develop in many directions” (Wilde 12). Blistering with irony, Wilde immediately shows his audience a character who has a lot say and very little idea of what she is talking about. Socially, Gwendolen probably cannot develop at all, and though the audience may not be aware of it at the time, personal development is “preoccupied with fashionable diversions,” and has “no legal, economic, or military aspects whatever” (Paglia 135). Even in her entrance, Gwendolen’s speech is as good as filler. Her mother...

Find Another Essay On The Victorian Truth: Oscar Wilde’s Revelations of the Aristocratic Lifestyle


1854 words - 7 pages -Raphaelites, Aesthetic movement proclaimed their own ideologies of it. These different ideas of art presented a great impact in the poetical development of Oscar Wilde, who agreed and disagreed with some of them, until his critical artist appears with the creation of his own theory of art."Some said my life was a lie, but I always knew it to be the truth, for like the truth it was rarely pure and never simple" was a response of Oscar Wilde, before he died

The Demise of the Southern Aristocratic Family

1211 words - 5 pages change, and in the grander scheme of things the demise of the last southern aristocratic family, the Compsons. From the start of the novel, The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner curtails the role of mom in the Compson family to the sister Caddy. Being the only daughter in the Compsons family, Caddy grows up to fulfill the majority of the maternal needs, especially towards Bengy. Her motherly instincts kick in when the rest of the Compsons derail Bengy

The Revelations of Edward Snowden

1162 words - 5 pages With the revelations of Edward Snowden about the massive amount of government surveillance of individuals worldwide, and the almost endless amount of news stories regarding the lack of privacy on the internet, the issue of data mining by the government and private businesses is of increasing concern to Americans. Many agencies of the government, including President Obama have defended the collection of phone records and Internet use data by

Parodies of Victorian Lifestyle

2074 words - 8 pages Parodies of Victorian Lifestyle in Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found        "It is no accident that the grotesque style in literature tends to be prevalent in eras marked by radical change and stress.  Such was the Victorian period, within which a whirl of social, economic, and religious change took place . . ." (Chang par. 2). This distorted writing can be unquestionably seen in the works of Lewis

Explain the role(s) of aristocratic women in Roman history

843 words - 3 pages Politically, women were forbidden to openly display their power in public, that is, they could only exercise power behind-the scenes. According to the historian, Bill Leadbetter, the level of indirect power reached levels never imagined during the Republican Period. However, the wives of emperors were able to exercise great political influence- as seen in the case of Agrippina the Younger, Messalina and Livia.Tacitus revealed the character of

Revelations in the Bible

1126 words - 5 pages is mention in the whole book of Revelations. Michael does appear in the New Testament (Jude 1:9) to dispute with Satan over the body of Moses. John seems to present Michael as the defender of the faithful people according to the book of Daniel (10:13, 21; 12:1). The protective role is fulfilled by having Michael battling the dragon and its angels. The dragon made the first move by making an attempt to attack Jesus' life (12:4) which triggers

The Life of Oscar Wilde

1519 words - 6 pages story of his outrage about the current style of writing that is going into the art society. What has happened to the spectacularness of this art, it has come down to being as horrid as what is being published in the local newspapers. Is it true that " The Decay of Lying" has fallen to its deepest shadow of shame? It seems that in the words of Oscar Wilde, that is the shameful truth. How could this type of atrocity take place. It seems that the

The Life of Oscar Pistorius

1411 words - 6 pages Oscar Pistorius; his life was one of great achievements as the South African sprint runner, competing in athletes for able-bodied and below-knee amputees. All that was tarnished because in the early hours of Valentine’s day; 14 February 2013 he shot dead his girlfriend ‘Reeva Steenkamp’ and now his undergoing a trial with possibilities that he will be sent to jail for 25 years with charges of premeditated murder. Steenkamp was a modeller and a

The Lifestyle of a Panda

738 words - 3 pages Pandas are some of the only animals that have a carnivorous digestive system, but they are primarily herbivores. Pandas are uniquely different mammals, but only some are left since they are an endangered species. Pandas are unique for a bunch of reasons such as their lifestyle. Pandas also live in a unique environment, but it is necessary for them to live in that habitat due to their diet which makes them mostly unique. They also have a

Mothers of the Victorian Period

913 words - 4 pages Mothers of the Victorian Period   There is no doubt in the fact that motherhood has changed throughout history in the way that it is practiced and perceived. Although hard to classify motherhood as an "easy" task in any time period, mothers of the Victorian period were among those who have had it the hardest. For example, Natalie McKnight, author of Suffering Mothers in Mid-Victorian Novels, states: "When I first began studying the lives of

The Victorian Age of Literature

1878 words - 8 pages The Victorian Age lasted from 1837 to 1901. Ironically, Queen Victoria lived from 1837 to 1901. By the beginning of the Victorian period, the Industrial Revolution, as this shift was called, had created profound economic and social changes, including a mass migration of workers to industrial towns, where they lived in new urban slums. But the changes arising out of the Industrial Revolution were just one small group of radical changes taking

Similar Essays

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest

1823 words - 7 pages In Oscar Wilde’s satire, The Importance of Being Earnest, he engages the audience with a profound amount of conflicting dialogue starting with the title. The importance of being Ernest is quite a different meaning than the importance of being earnest. Wilde demonstrates a considerable amount of wit to unfold the importance of being both Ernest and earnest. The play centers on a young man named Jack, who incidentally has created an alter ego

Criticism Of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1148 words - 5 pages Criticism of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray          The novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by Oscar Wilde originally appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890.  It was then published in 1891, in book form, containing six additional chapters with revisions. The first reviews of Dorian Gray were mostly unfavorable.  It was condemned for its speculative treatment  of immoral or at least uncomfortable subjects. A

A Critical Appreciation Of An Extract From Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1216 words - 5 pages The following extract presents Dorian Gray’s chilling self-destruction through the use of language, structure and form. Filled with gothic suspense, Oscar Wilde presents the mental and physical effects of an opium addiction. Oscar Wilde begins the extract with the use of pathetic fallacy. This almost instantaneously suggests to the reader that Dorian Gray’s life is deteriorating, just like the “cold rain [that] began to fall”. The way he is

Philosophy And Ideas In Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray’

1854 words - 7 pages -Raphaelites, Aesthetic movement proclaimed their own ideologies of it. These different ideas of art presented a great impact in the poetical development of Oscar Wilde, who agreed and disagreed with some of them, until his critical artist appears with the creation of his own theory of art."Some said my life was a lie, but I always knew it to be the truth, for like the truth it was rarely pure and never simple" was a response of Oscar Wilde, before he died