Literature

Oscar Wilde Revisited

Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, plays and the circumstances of his imprisonment, followed by his early death. | Photo: Archives | Oscar Wilde, Writer, Poet, Playwright, Epigram,

Lovely, Witty, Sparkling

Every once in a while it's great to revisit an old classic. After all, classics are classics for a reason: they all have something that has touched audiences or readers for far longer than we would expect. (Who would have thought, for instance, that people would still enjoy Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar--not only hundreds of years after it was written, but also many hundreds of years after Caesar actually lived?) The majority of these stories have timeless qualities about them: elements that everyone can relate to at some point or other in their lives, no matter how far removed the plot actually is. This quality makes them precious and rare. But other classics are just beautifully written and highly entertaining stories that lighten our mood and make us enjoy life a little more than we were before. They might not be as profound, but they are no less valuable. Such a one is Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest.

The plot of this lovely and funny play is a bit too complicated for me to condense into a few sentences; but it revolves around mistaken identities, imaginary brothers, and a couple of women who are obsessed with men named "Ernest." Gwendolyn Fairfax, Cecily Cardew, John Worthing, and Algernon Moncrieff are the people around whom the plot revolves; and filling out this wonderful cast of characters are a hilariously stuffy, filthily rich mother, a reverend, a nurse, and a couple others. Wilde's sparkling and witty dialogue guides his complicated plot along easily and gracefully, so that even while giggling helplessly over the various jokes and jibes woven into these characters' lines, we still keep hold of who everyone is and what they are doing. And, like most good dramas, the end is a complete surprise. With a few happy coincidences, revelations, and happenstances, the loose ends fall naturally and easily into place; and all is well.

I can't really say what made me pick up the play and reread it, but I'm really glad I did. This delightfully light story turned my funny mood into a much better one by the time I was done, and it reacquainted me with a play I'm glad to have re-remembered. I love Shakespeare very much, but let's not forget the other wonderful classics the world has to offer. I certainly intend to remember them. Maybe next time I'll read The Bacchae or something.

Comment on Disqus

Comment on Facebook

Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:14 PM EDT | More details

AND Magazine AND MAGAZINE

©2017 AND Magazine, LLC
5 Columbus Circle, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10019 USA

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written permission from AND Magazine corporate offices. All rights reserved.