Reflection

Before this semester, I had never read anything written by Oscar Wilde.  I knew he was famous, and I knew a little bit about The Picture of Dorian Gray, but that was pretty much the extent of my experience with Wilde.  Nearing the end of the semester, I am grateful to have not only read a variety of complex works written by a revered author, but also to have learned more about Wilde’s history and how his character and actions influenced his own art, the art of others to follow, and our society as a whole. I was particularly interested by his plays, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest.  Thinking about the various layers coexisting within the works and the degrees to which Wilde may or may not have been pushing back against traditional Victorian society and being able to connect his work to past and future authors was interesting.  We talked about his Platonic and Shakespearean influences, but I also couldn’t help but relate his work to early modern playwrights like Margaret Cavendish and Aphra Behn in how they explored gender roles and questioned the role of art and genre in their work, and I really enjoyed seeing how Wilde’s own work has had an impact on how we understand art today.  Looking forward, I hope to see some of Wilde’s work performed on stage for a more complete view of their meanings, since the visual performance adds yet another layer to an already interesting work.  I do still wonder, how much of Wilde’s current success is a result of the quality of his work that readers still recognize today, or a result of the overarching influence of his personal life.  Either way, I am leaving this class with a greater appreciation of art, of the history of turning points, and of the role Wilde played in both of those areas.

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