Titters at Black-and-White Moral Absolutism: Portrayal of Characters in Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan

Iman Morshed Mohammad Hammad


This paper examines Oscar Wilde’s portrayal of characters in his famous comedy Lady Windermere’s Fan in an attempt to unravel the mystery behind the seemingly contradictory acts of behavior which are at odds with their inclinations and the attitudes they often express in their dialogues with one another. Since critics have been holding controversial views about Wilde’s craftsmanship in character delineation, the paper endeavors to prove that he meant to avoid black-and-white moral absolutism to prove that a human being is essentially unpredictable, and has a multi-facetted self which is far more sophisticated than being drawn as either good or bad. I argue that Wilde’s craftsmanship should not be under question, for his portrayal of characters is correlated to the focal point of the play which maintains that human behavior cannot be measured by a yardstick. At the beginning, I include an analysis of characters’ sayings and acts of behavior, and thereafter I briefly elucidate how Wilde utilizes them to communicate his message. The upshot of this paper contests that a human being is a potentiality that keeps unfolding. The more a person experiences life, the better he\ she tolerates difference and shows more understanding of people’s nature and motives. This seems to be the crux of Wilde’s play and the interpretation of his seemingly contradictory delineation of characters.


Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fans, English Drama, Victorian Drama, Comedy, Wilde’s Characters

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.12n.5.p.36


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