OSCAR WILDE - Biography
Oscar Wilde was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest playwrights of the Victorian Era. In his lifetime he wrote nine plays, one novel, a number of poems, short stories, and essays. He was born on October the 16th, 1894 in Dublin to Sir William Wilde and his wife Jane. Oscar's mother, Lady Jane Francesca Wilde was a successful poet and journalist also (Gregory Brdnik 2012). Oscar had an elder brother, Willie, and a younger sister, Isola Francesca, who died at the early age of 10. Wilde educated himself in Trinity College, Dublin and also in the Magdalen College in Oxford. While at Oxford, he became involved in the aesthetic movement and became an advocate for 'Art for Art's Sake’. (Teiresias 2001). After he graduated in 1879, he moved to Chelsea in London to begin his literary career. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the 1890’s. (Coakley, Davis (1994). On the 29th of May Oscar Wilde married an Englishwoman named Constance Lloyd in whom he had two children with, but later was arrested for being gay with a man named Lord Alfred Douglas. (Rictor Norton 1998). In 1888 Oscar Wilde began a seven year period of creativity in which he produced nearly all of his great literary works (Merlin Holland 1997). Wilde’s most notable plays were ‘A Woman of No importance ‘(1893), ‘An Ideal Husband’ (1895), and ’ The Importance of Being Earnest’ (1895). Wilde emerged from prison in 1897. He came out physically depleted and exhausted while also being completely broke. He began hiding in France where he briefly reunited with his former gay lover Lord Alfred Douglas. (Douglas O’ Linder). During this time Wilde was writing very little. He then went on to die of meningitis on November 30th, 1990 at the age of 46. He is buried in the Le Pére Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France. VICTORIAN SOCIETY and THE NEW WOMAN DEBATES
In Victorian society, the conventional norms of status, gender roles, and marriage were closely linked by an institution that men and women were placed with unrealistic demands and expectations from society. Women were brought up by their parents to become the perfect housewife, and men were forced into marriages based on status within the society. In most of Oscar Wilde plays, I think he mocks the typical Victorian conventions and ideals which society held on the individual.(Marshell 783). In my thesis, I plan to look at the plays of Oscar Wilde which in my opinion show this mockery, while also showing that Wilde was closely linked to the idea of the New Woman. They plays I will look at include ‘Salomé’,’ A Woman of No Importance’, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ and lastly ‘An Ideal Husband’. I chose to look at these plays because after reading them it is clear to me that Wilde was greatly connected with the fin de siècle feminism and also because I enjoyed studying them and seeing the change from a robotic woman to a free and equal woman . The fin de siècle movement was greatly associated with France at the time of Wilde’s writing. It is evident in his play Salomé which was originally written in French.(Robert Ross). During the time of which Oscar Wilde’s plays were being written the treatment of woman was radically shifting (Ian Small 1993). According to a report carried out by the Clash of Culture’s in the 1920’s, the new woman was ‘an icon of changing gender norms, the "new woman" first emerged in the late nineteenth century. Less constrained by Victorian norms and domesticity than previous generations, the new woman had greater freedom to pursue public roles and even flaunt her "sex appeal," a term coined in the 1920s and linked with the emergence of the new woman. She challenged conventional gender roles and met with hostility from men and women who objected to women's public presence and supposed decline in morality. Expressing autonomy and individuality, the new woman represented the tendency of young women at the turn...
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