"I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever."
Unfortunately, Mr Wilde's services as a critic are currently not at my disposal, so you will have to content yourself with my humble thoughts.
I said the play was about nothing at all, but that is not entirely true: it is a farce built upon the fact that two young gentlemen (of course dandies, since we are reading Wilde) have both created a fictional alter ego to escape boresome social obligations. There is a lot of spontaneous love and confusion, and the characters are all the very opposite of earnest. This alone, especially if combined with Wilde's almost heavenly wit, would be enough to make a very enjoyable comedy, but the way it mocks Victorian conventions and hypocrisy
makes it downright hilarious.
We read the whole play aloud in English class and not only did every single student love it, but several teachers who heard us suggested that we should perform it on stage. It was amazing: I read the role of Lady Bracknell who is, to put it into Wilde's own words, a real Gorgon:
Superficially she is the very picture of Victorian respectability, but in fact she satirises London society at least as much as the young men who openly admit how little they think of earnestness. For example, she states that:“Never met such a Gorgon . . . I don't really know what a Gorgon is like, but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair.”
Now that I think of it, she is not so very different from my real character at all!"Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago."
The characters of Jack and Algernon who are, as I have heard is typical for Wilde, the very incarnation of the word dandy, I am glad to have rediscovered in The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I will finish soon; especially Algernon reminds me a lot of Lord Henry. They take nothing seriously, except for pleasure.
"I love scrapes. They are the only things that are never serious."
"Oh, that's nonsense, Algy. You never talk anything but nonsense."
"Nobody ever does."
Honestly I think that everyone should read this play. It was the first work of Wilde I've ever read and while it is primarily profoundly entertaining, there are many universal truths about society to be found in it. My class has started with An Ideal Husband, so we'll see if he will be able to live up to my expectations a second time, but I am not too worried about that: relying on the words of my teacher, Oscar Wilde probably was the closest to God that ever visited our earth.