Oscar Wilde “A woman of no importance”
Oscar Wilde was born in Ireland in 1854, he died in 1900 shortly after his imprisonment. He is remembered today for his plays and details of his personal life. He was writing in many different forms throughout his life but ganed popularity for writing plays. Wilde was born during the time in the history when Queen Victoria reigned, from 1837-1901. During this period England was undergoing a lot of change and that influenced how people lived and thought.
“In modern times, Victorian society is generally remembered as one that was puritanical, repressive, obsessed with the appearance of respectability, strict discipline and high morals. The quality of earnestness became a typical Victorian value, and was applied to all areas of Victorian life, especially in religion, literature and social conduct. Though somewhat one-sided, the term “Victorian” is also associated with negative qualities such as narrow-mindedness, double standards, hypocrisy, sexual repression and extreme class-consciousness.”
(“The Life and Works of Oscar Wilde.” Skoletorget/Forside, www.skoletorget.no/abb/eng/wilde/ow.html.)
Oscar Wilde was an irony lover and we see irony in his plays. His work reflected a close connection with his personal life. At some point in his life Wilde established a homosexual relationship with a young poet. Victorian society did not accept homosexuality and it was considered immoral and unnatural and also a criminal offence.
Some of his novels implied homosexuality and persuit of sensual pleasures. Society was outgraged by it. Oscar Wilde’s plays were witty, satiric about upper-class society, hypocrasy, double standarts filled with intrigue, scandal and romance. He was critisizing and satirizing Victorian upper class society.
“A woman of no importance” is Oscar Wilde’s play about women in Victorian society-a time when women had very few rights. He explores the double standarts that existed between men and women. The play was influence by the new trend of modernism that was happening in literature at the time. The modern elements include the revision and distruction of traditional norms and views on gender, society and culture. The plot is very simple but through the exploration of characters and their psychological interaction unfolds the dark side of Victorian era.
In the comedy “A woman of no importance” we see Wilder’s definition of values, marital issues, women’s views and influences, sin, and American-English relations. Marriage was percieved as some kind of a deal at the end of nineteenth century and he exposes the issue in “A woman of no importance” too. Wilde satirizes women’s increasing influence on the society, he implies in his play that there is no need to establish any laws, to give women more rights, they already rule the world with the power they have over men. But women were not treated eqally and that’s the theme of “A woman of no importance”. We see an opposing veiw of an American chracter Hester, a young woman, she talks about rights and eqality, double standarts and how men can get away with their indescretions but women are left with obvious evidence such as pregnancy. She is a strong character in the play and it is through her that Oscar Wilde voices some of his opinions. “It is right that they should be punished, but don’t let them be the only ones to suffer. If a man and woman have sinned, let them both go forth into the desert to love or loathe each other there. Let them both be branded. Set a mark, if you wish, on each, but don’t punish the one and let the other go free. Don’t have one law for men and another for women.”