Oscar Wilde & Background on book

victorian era years
1832-1901

list of monarchs
1. William IV (1830-1837)
2. Victoria (1837- 1901)

why was England considered a leading power?
1. 1876, Queen Victoria waas named Empress of India and Englands expanding rule.
2. they had one of the strongest Navy’s of the time- they controlled the ocean and trade.
3. They supplied the world with Iron Ore (very important during industrial Revolution)

Reforms of the era
– abolition of slavery
– first restrictions on child labor laws
– the reform bill of 1832—expanded voting rights to men with certain amount of property. it did not bring full democracy, but it did give a greater political voice to middle-class men, It began the century long process of expanding democracy in England.

1861
Civil War errupts in America

1874
Alexander Grahm Bell develops the telephone

1879
Thomas Edison invents first practical light bulb

1893
Henry Ford developes gasoline-powered automobiles & New Zealand is the first country to grant women suffrage

some of the Important writers of the victorian era
1. Oscar Wilde; Dorian Gray
2. Lewis Carol; Alice in wonderland/Through the looking glass
3. Thomas Hardy

Wilde’s writting style/ characteristics
1. very witty dialect, pointed but easy-to-read style.
2. He’s known for his clever pithy sayings
3.sly, sometimes self-depracating irony.
4. filled with pithy epigrams and paradoxes

Scandals of Wilde
*In 1885, the British Parliament passed the Labouchere Amendment, which widened prohibitions against male homosexual acts (punishable by death until 1861). Wilde was caught & sentenced to carry out a two-year prison term.

*fell in love with lord Alfred DOUGLAS (was sentenced to jail for two years)

*The Picture of Dorian Gray, brimming with homosexual undertones, was considered inappropriate. Due to the time period’s standards, Oscar Wilde was forced to hide behind a thin layer of inference and parallel.(Through his works, Oscar Wilde implicitly reflected his gay lifestyle because he feared the repercussions from the conservative Victorian era in which he lived.)

Pertinent information regarding Wilde’s writing of Dorian Gray
*Wilde was obsessed with the perfect image & Ideal beauty– Dorian

*Wilde was terrified of revealing his homosexuality because he knew that he would be alienated from society. — Basil & Harry are gay

*He tried to “defend” himself by showing the deep love artists can have for their subjects; he was following the model of the classics- the Greek & Roman artists that had young men muses

Victorian View on Gays
– The Victorian era was about progress. It was an attempt aimed at cleaning up the society and setting a moral standard. They did not want anything “unclean” or “unacceptable” to interfere with their idea of perfection

What was England’s Main focus
The Victorian era was all about EXPANSION and domestic reform (transatlantic telegraph cable and the advent of the automobile, electric lighting, and antiseptic medicine)

who had the longest monarch reign?
Queen Victoria

Who was Victoria married to?
Prince Albert

How did Victoria’s husband die?
while on a camping trip with his eldest son, he drank uncelan water & later died of typhus

“England is made of two nations: the ___and the ___”
wealthy; poor

what does “England is made of two nations: the wealthy and the poor” mean?
*there’s a distinction in lifestyle between the two groups
— each have own culture, language, ideas
—the contrast between Sibyl (poor, lowly) & Dorian (high society)
– the poor are painted as unworthy people: the mother isn’t married, James is shot like an animal…
– While the rich live in luxury and aren’t concerned with problems

what is the attitude of England?
– they believe themselves to be superior
-they had an obligation to enlighten and civilize the ‘less fortunate savages’ of the world
-as a chosen people, had a destiny to fulfill (‘destined’ to rule the world)

Aestheticism
– art for art’s sake
– a book, portrait, poem, all art is only about the BEAUTY, surface value of that piece of work and has no deep hidden meaning to it

Didactic
– designed to teach or instruct
— Wilde believes Literature isn’t meant to teach
(preface in the book is meant to be beautiful & the focus of the story should be on beauty only)
*the book contradicts the idea (Dorian’s soul vs. beauty)
(morality vs. immorality)

Faustian Theme
– Gothic theme; Idea of selling soul for something (a pact with the devil)
— Dorian makes the wish to be forever young

role of women
– Very superficial!
— he had a horrible relationship with his mother, & his wife— she was so ashamed, that she left & changed her name
— He LOVED her, but it was so scandalous/ he was scorned from Ireland, she changed her name and took their children
• Sibyl Vane- name is Vain, Dorian only liked her because of her acting- she was so good at acting because she lived through her acting, but now that she’d met Dorian, she could feel love for herself and everything else just felt like a lie… Acting is superficial (not herself, but when she is- he doesn’t love her) & (beauty for beauty’s sake) the melodrama of their relationship
• Henry’s wife – just there for show
• Duchess
• Hetti

Oscar Wilde’s lover
• Lord Alfred Douglas (was like Wilde’s Dorian
– Basil’s devotion and love for Dorian = Oscar’s love for Alfred )

Where is Oscar Wilde now?
(He died in Paris from sickness in a hotel room)
-His ashes are in a monument in Paris

Gothic ties
1. the supernatural element- Dorian’s Painting
2. Evil — Dorian is responsible for all of those people’s fates
– Adrian’s addiction, Alan Cample’s death, sibyl’s death
–Harry is manipulative, plants ideas in Dorian’s mind and returns only to see how his subject has changed

Birth place & year
Dublin, Ireland 1854

Published in 1890
The picture of Dorian Gray

Only book written by Wilde
the picture of dorian Gray

Other pieces by Wilde
the importance of being earnest, an ideal husband…

Death Year Wilde
1900

Victoria rule
1837- 1901

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