Oscar Wilde Satire

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A man burdened by his past, a woman of extreme standards, and a man with a past that does not truly represent his true character – all fascinating characters found within Oscar Wilde’s satirical play, An Ideal Husband. Wilde lived a controversial life both well known to the public and condemned as his life defied the normal social behavior of the Victorian era, and was put into this public position due to the success of his plays which challenged the social norm while being funny. Wilde uses an abundance of elements such as reversal and irony to convey the satirical message in what is arguably the greatest of his works. Irony, a prominent element of satire used by Oscar Wilde to convey his satirical message to the audience, is used by a…show more content…
The first example of Wilde’s use of reversal is when Lady Markby stated “Ah, nowadays people marry as often as they can, don’t they? It is most fashionable” (Wilde 3). The quote from Lady Markby is reversal due to the rhetorical question about marriage. During the Victorian era, marriage was expected to be a one event affair, not to see how many times you can be married. In turn, it was very unfashionable to marry as often as possible and Oscar Wilde’s use of reversal masterfully captures the humor of the situation. The second example of reversal that Wilde uses is through the building relationship of Mabel Chiltern and Lord Goring, Mabel “delights” in Lord Goring’s “bad qualities” and would not have him “part with one of them” (Wilde 8). Mabel Chiltern telling this to Lord Goring is reversal because of the foundation of the Victorian era and how Mabel is embracing Lord Goring’s bad qualities unlike the counterpart prestigious couple of the Chiltern’s were Lady Chiltern was horrified by the events of her “perfect” husbands past. She embraces in the bad qualities of who she wants to be with and does not want to be the ideal couple that was normal during the era that Wilde lived. The final example of reversal in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband is through building the threat of Mrs. Cheveley going to the newspaper with the story of Sir Robert Chiltern. Robert Chiltern tells Lord Goring that “spies are of no use nowadays,” and that the “newspapers do their work instead” (Wilde 52). The reversal used here by Wilde correlates to how he was being condemned for not following the social norm by the newspaper which made it acknowledgeable to the people of the Victorian era therefore condemning Wilde for expressing his ideas to the world and challenging the normality of
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