Journal article

Realizing Personality in The Importance of Being Earnest

S Balkin

Modern Drama | University of Toronto Press | Published : 2016

Abstract

Oscar Wilde’s “The Portrait of Mr. W.H.” (1889) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) both centrally feature imaginary persons. In “The Portrait of Mr. W.H.,” Wilde’s narrator says that “all Art” is “to a certain degree a mode of acting, an attempt to realise one’s own personality.” The Importance of Being Earnest assigns actors’ bodies to the imaginary person of the title. My essay examines what it meant to realize a personality on the late-nineteenth-century stage in light of recent scholarship on character, stage properties, and materiality. I argue that – because theatre shows the constructedness of material and corporeal being, because farce renders male identity a matter of genre,..

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University of Melbourne Researchers