Women as figures of disorder in the plays of Oscar Wilde

Bose, Sarika Priyadarshini (1999). Women as figures of disorder in the plays of Oscar Wilde. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Oscar Wilde's plays on upper-class Victorian society are set apart from contemporary drama both by their wit and their reappraisal of conventions, particularly in dealing with transgressive women. The fallen woman's prominence in popular culture and the stage during a period of intense suffragism attests to woman's role as a touchstone of moral stability, contemporary plays viewing deviant women as threats to a man's world. Wilde mocks society's confinement of women, fallen or not, into prescribed roles and undercuts customary morality but fears self-determining women's disruptive power. A tool of perceiving this ambivalence is the self-fashioning dandy, who repudiates social constraints and yet foils transgressive women's attempts at self-fashioning. The surface mockery of conventional fears of female aspirations as threats to masculine orderliness conceals a greater fear of female autonomy as a threat to masculinity itself. This study locates the dramatic and moral urgency of Wilde's five major plays, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest and Salome in this conflicting response to the feminine, which also determines his choice of theme and form both in his comedies of manners and symbolic drama.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/5081


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