Oscar Wilde, born on 16th October 1854 was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. He became one of the best-known personalities of his day. His work earned him dedicated fans all over the world.
On his birth anniversary today, here is a list of seven important works by Wilde.
The Importance of Being Earnest
A social comedy, widely considered to be his greatest masterpiece. The play’s protagonists try escaping the burden of their social duties by adopting fake personae with amusing consequences. Praised for its remarkable humor, the play is a fantastic social satire, treating with triviality everything that Victorian society held most dear. The portrayal of characters and human error show the eternal appeal of the play. It was later adapted for a film.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde’s only novel, published in 1890 was not so popular in its time. It was only later that people came to appreciate the novel as an attack on contemporary social values. The themes of extravagance, immorality, and beauty are dealt with great finesse. It is the story of a young man selling his soul in exchange for eternal youth. It gave us the famous epigram ‘The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it’.
One of his most celebrated works, Salome was published in 1891 and was originally written in French. It has wide use of poetic description and imagery. A biblical tale of Salome, step-daughter of King Herod, who morbidly requests the head of John the Baptist on a platter. It illustrated the glorious highs and the pitiless lows which humanity can reach, and everything human emotion is capable of.
The Happy Prince and Other Tales
Published in 1888, it was a collection of five short stories for children. All the delicately crafted story hides a crucial moral message and universal themes such as selfishness, greed, and pride.
Meaning ‘from the depths’, it recounts Wilde’s relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and the lavish lifestyle which led to his conviction.
Lady Windermere’s Fan
A satire on the morality of Victorian Britain, centered around a supposed affair between Lady Windemere’s husband and a character called Mrs Erlynne, the play deals with basic and relatable concepts such as family relations, love, and morality. An excellent juxtaposition of the comic and the serious. It gave us the well known quote ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
His final work, the poem describes, in moving detail, the brutality of prison life and the depths of his suffering during this time. A highly touching account on the injustice of life and the horror of the prison system, it marks the tragic decline of one of literature’s greatest heroes.
Remembered as much for his imprisonment for homosexuality and early death, as for his literary talent, Wilde’s work continues to inspire millions of people.