from Leadership Medica n. 4/2000
Shakes, often violently outrageous, against the drawing-room society of the end of the nineteenth century came from the works of the Irish Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).
Besides the collection of verse and novels, he measured himself also with the pleasure of composing theatre texts, whose production lists in the drama “Salome” (1891), the comedies 'Lady Windermere's fan” (1892), “A woman of no importance” (1893), “An ideal husband” (1895) and the very famous “The importance of being Earnest” (1895).
In his theatrical production Wilde opts for brilliant comedies, and we attend the renaissance of an environment theatre wherein the prospective social polemic is dissolved by the irony of witticisms and dialogues.
“Lady Windermere's fan” is a four acts comedy and tells about a mother, Mrs. Erlynne, with a few transparent past, whose purpose is to change her life but only at the condition of never revealing that she is the real mother of Lady Windermere. The latter's husband is acquainted with and helps Mrs. Erlynne both economically and by bringing her to the salons that count, and nevertheless rising gossips about their meetings. Lady Windermere deems her as her husband's lover, and discouraged, she thinks to yield to Lord Darlington that over time has been flirting with her. Mrs. Erlynne rushes Lord Darlington's home and, without revealing herself, convinces her daughter to get back home to her husband, but suddenly Lord Darlington, who aims to marry Mrs. Erlynne, arrives along with Windermere and Lord August. The two women hide, only a fan left by Lady Windermere shows their presence: it will be Mrs. Erlynne to reveal herself so not to give up her daughter's good reputation and dignity: so it raises toward her the contempt both by the son-in-law and Lord August, while Lady Windermere, in the confusion, succeeds in escaping. Keeping her secret, Mrs Erlynne will see Lady Windermere only once more and then she will become estranged forever to her, to reach sir August and to get married with him.
In “An ideal husband”, Wilde outlines the personage of a man in career, still young, the utmost rich, happily married and esteemed by everyone, Sir Robert Chiltern. Nevertheless, he, years before, dealt with a bad lot that is now in possession of a letter that disinherits him and that points out that Sir Robert revealed a professional secrecy: his bright career could be shattered, since the woman blackmails him in order to achieve the support at the Chamber for a bill, not surely clear. All seems to take a turn for the worse. Nevertheless, he confides in his friend Goring who will succeed in solving Chiltern's vicissitudes, finding, by a chance, the proves of a theft that the woman committed in her surely not flattering past. The comedy ends with a happy end, while the good Goring crowns his love dream by marring Chiltern's sister.
Also in “The importance of being Earnest” we find this design. In three acts, it tells about Gwendolyn, Lady Bracknell's daughter whose preferred name is just Earnest. So John Worthing decides to make him named Earnest to court the girl; then he comes up with a reckless brother under which hides his friend Algernon, who loves Cecily, Gwendolyn's best friend and decides to accept this role only to get close to her. The friends start this way creating a pack of lies; the two young they aim to marry, unawares, till when it seems that the two women are to discover everything.