Oscar Wilde (Oscar Fingal O'Flaherty Wills Wilde )
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854 and he became a fashionable DANDY of his time. (A Dandy was a man who dressed elegantly exagerating his manners and way to speak and he also promoted himself).
Wilde was one of the most succesful playwrights on the late Victorian Age. He was imprisoned for "gross indecency" for Homosexual acts . Wilde died in Paris in 1900.Wilde was fascinated by The Pre-Raphaelites movement for the way its visible beauty suggested spiritual purity and unspeakeable pleasures.Oscar Wilde was an aestethical and he affirmed indeed "My life is like a work of art". For Wilde an artist is a cretor of beutiful things, and Art should be used just to celebrate beauty and the sensorial pleasures. Wilde was much closer to the ideas of French symbolist poets than to the Victorian poets.The aesthetism of Wilde influenzed many artists and also Gabrile D'Annunzio in Italy.
The manifesto of aesthetism:
The preface of "The picture of Dorian Gray" can be considered as a "manifesto" of the aesthetical movement in which he express his ideas on art in general. (some quotations from the preface)
The artist is the creator of beautiful things
Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art
There is no such things as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.
This work first appears in a magazine in 1890 , it reflects Wilde's personality and it was considered immoral by the Victorian public.
The picture of Dorian Gray starts with dialogue on the nature of art in the modern age. This dialogue reflects the motto " Art for Art's sake" of the aesthetic movement. The story turns from a typical "Wildean" comedy into a nightmare world of gothic horror. Dorian makes a pact with a devil and makes his life an unchanging and untouchable work of art , while his portrait becomes a mirror of his real inner soul and he keeps to not grow older. The center of the novel are the APPAREANCE and the REALITY. Dorian Gray embodies many aspects of the philosophy of Wilde and especially the rejection of the untilitarian values of the industrialized mass society through the cult of art and beauty for its own sake.
Dorian Gray (protagonist);Basil Hallward (painter);Lord Henry Wotton (D.Gray's friend that acts as the devil advocate).
A witty language (so nobody can accused him to go against the State because he moved his critics in a thin way);
Irony (not a clear irony but we have to read between the lines);
Setting is not realist;
Absurdity between the situations and the language;
Is NOT important WHAT the characters say but HOW they say it.
The characters are snobs and aristocratics and also arrogant and concerned with money. The centre of the play is Ernest that is not earnest who presents a moral paradox.Wilde combines LINGUISTIC PARADOXES and FARCES in this play marked an important step on the way of modern drama and so The THEATRE of The ABSURD.This play it is also a parody of romantic love, the characters speaks in paradoxes and they contradict themself.In the end this play can be read as a social satireagainst the upper class.
THE PLOT:The protagonists are two young aristocratic men Ernest Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff.When Jack visits London is known as Ernest and to protect his reputation convinces his ward (Cecily Cardew) that the dissolute Ernest is his brother.So Jack falls in love with Gwendolen Fairfax daughter of Lady Bracknell who opposes to their marriage because of Jack's unknown origins. Algernon falls in love with Jack's ward (Cecily) but Cecily thinks that Algernon is Jack's brother Ernest with whom she's already in love.After many complications and confusing of identity Jack finds out he was found as a baby in a bag at Victoria Station by Cecily governess and so he is really Algernon's brother and that his name is in fact Ernest ! So Jack (Ernest) can finally get marry with Gwendolen assuming his real name and becames truly earnest.