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					    Wilde’s Earnest (1895)

So what’s outrageously “wild” about it?
         Perhaps its development
   originally written in four acts but then compressed by
    Wilde into three on suggestions of actor-manager of St.
    James’ Theatre

   compressed version more streamlined; throws out info. not
    vital to understanding of characters (Slover: online)

   four-act version gives more lines to Chasuble and Prism;
    Algernon almost gets arrested in case of mistaken identity
    (while masquerading as “Ernest”) for restaurant fees Jack
    Worthing hasn’t paid; more commentary on state of
    “modern society” by Jack and Algy.
           Maybe its implications
   disruptive/satirical of social norms

   life replaced by art (cf. Decadence: late 19th-cent. artistic
    movement that championed idea of “art for art’s sake”;
    philosophy based on art critic Walter Pater’s ideas [c.
    1870]; e.g., “subtle and delicate sweetness which belongs
    to a fine and comely decadence”)

   paradox of social conventions and empty words: boredom,
    hypocrisy, nonsense, etc.

   1890s’ London as evil “megalopolis” (the “Great Whore”)
    that gets caricatured, together with Victorian sophistication
                   Or gender relations
   Bunbury as “invaluable permanent
    invalid…” (Earnest I.201) who comes in
    handy in marriage* (I.232-3)

   Gwendolen on ideals and the name
    “Ernest” (I.346,350-1)

   more generally, male/female interaction
    (e.g., Mary Farquhar & husband [I.217-

* The Lady With the Monkey, by Aubrey
     Beardsley (1898)
                    Works Cited

Slover, Tim. “The Playwright in Earnest: A Re-evaluation of
the Writing and Revising of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of
Being Earnest.” The Importance of Being Earnest: A Study
Guide. Ed. Bob Nelson. Provo: BYU Theatre and Film, 1993.
4-19. 17 Jan. 2010.


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