Wilde's social criticism
Posted by MB on June 03, 1998 at 14:06:12:
In response to Portrait of a Society, written by Constanza on June 01, 1998 at 16:58:13
] So my question is this: why is TIOBE different? (snip) Or has his criticism become more subtle?
This is the explanation that makes the most sense to me (and I am by no means a Wilde scholar! ;-). There are several "digs" at fashionable society in Act One alone :
* Algie : "I don't play accurately -- but I play with wonderful expression." Which is funny, because it is also somewhat of a criticism of Wilde's circle (he's credited with starting the "Aesthetic" movement)
* Algie's criticisms of Lane's views on modern marriage
* Jack : "For heaven's sake, don't try to be cynical. It's perfectly easy to be cynical." (which always seemed to me to have quite a "serious" entendre as well)
* Lady B.'s and Algy's comments about Lady Harbury (the widow)
* Lady Bracknell : " Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid." (later in the same monologue...) "It is my last reception, and one wants something that will encourage conversation, particularly at the end of the season when everyone has practically said whatever they had to say, which, in most cases, was probably not much."
* Gwendolen : "We live...in an age of ideals. The fact is constantly mentioned in the more expensive monthly magazines, and has reached the provincial pulpits, I am told."
* Lady Bracknell's theories on engagements
] And another thing, how accurate is his protrait of the London society?
I would think that it's pretty accurate, having recently read a few books on the 1890's and the Edwardian era. Especially (one of my two favorite scenes) Lady Bracknell's interrogation of Jack and Algy and Jack's discussion about what to do after they dine.
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