Oscar Wilde Study Guides

  • Oscar Wilde

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  • An Ideal Husband

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    Oscar Wilde's comedy, An Ideal Husband, is a play full of blackmail and deception. Sir Robert is conned into supporting a fraudulent scheme by Mrs. Cheveley, who has incriminating information about him. Mrs. Cheveley also attempts to trick Sir Robert into thinking that his wife, Lady Chiltern, is having an affair with Lord Goring. All is resolved in the end, with Lady Chiltern and Sir Robert reuniting and Lord Goring proposing marriage to Robert's sister, Mabel.

  • Lady Windermere's Fan

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  • Salome

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    Salome is an 1893 play by Oscar Wilde. The play tells the biblical story of John the Baptist's execution. Salome, the stepdaughter of tetrach Herod Antipas, finds herself attracted to the imprisoned Jokonaan (Saint John the Baptist), who rejects her advances. Salome makes a deal with Herod, who, to the chagrin of Salome's mother, Herodias, is attracted to her. Salome performs the Dance of the Seven Veils for Herod, and, upon seeing her kiss the severed head of Jokonaan, orders the guards to kill her.

  • The Canterville Ghost

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    The Canterville Ghost is a famous Victorian short story concerning the haunting of an old English house. When an American family moves in, however, the ghost finds that it is impossible to frighten them; in fact, the tables are turned, and he ends up being terrorized by the family's twin boys. This comical story deals with themes of life and death, and satirizes the tropes of the established tradition of ghost stories by reversing the reader's expectations.

  • The Importance of Being Earnest

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    In The Importance of Being Earnest, the respectable young Jack Worthing, bored with his upright life in the country as the guardian of his cousin Cecily, often goes to the city under the name Ernest, who he pretends is his wastrel younger brother. When his friend Algy discovers this duplicity, he goes to the country to woo Cecily, all the while pretending to be Ernest. This play mocks both the Victorian obsession with marriage and the upper-class preoccupation with rules and being proper.

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray

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    The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde about Dorian Gray and his life of sin. Dorian's original wish comes true: that a portrait of him will age in his stead, after which he begins to seek out beauty. His lover Sibyl kills herself and Dorian falls into hedonism, lust and vice. Many years later, after realizing his fundamental selfishness, he attacks the painting and is later found dead and suddenly aged. The book presents a tension between aesthetics and ethics, between hedonism and righteousness.