16 August 2009

Oscar Wilde is actually rather annoying

I first encountered Mr Wilde when I was 12 (perhaps 14?...), through his essay The Decay of Lying, which I still enjoy. It wasn't until now, however, that I've begun to read The Importance of Being Earnest.
"CECILY: I am afraid I am not learned at all. All I know is about the relations between Capital and Idleness--and that is merely from observation. So I don't suppose it is true.
MISS PRISM: Cecily, that sounds like Socialism! And I suppose you know where Socialism leads to?
CECILY: Oh, yes! That leads to Rational Dress, Miss Prism. And I suppose that when a woman is dressed rationally, she is treated rationally. She certainly deserves to be."
Which brings me back to an earlier scene from the same play:
"JACK: Is that clever?
ALGERNON: It is perfectly phrased! And quite as true as any observation in civilized life should be."
Likewise here, and here:
"CECILY: ... I hope that you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.
ALGERNON (looks at her in amazement): Oh! Of course I have been rather reckless."

"ALGERNON: ... Indeed, it is not even decent...and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. The amount of women who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public [emphasis mine]."
He knew exactly what he was doing! Shameless.