Oscar Wilde's Victorian Stage Melodrama, An Ideal Husband

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Oscar Wilde began to write An Ideal Husband in the summer of 1893, he completed it later that winter. At the time of when it was written, he was familiarised to success, and in writing this play he wanted to guarantee himself to stay in the public eye. An ideal husband is one of the most serious social comedies that Oscar Wilde published, it contains bold political tinges, ironically and pessimistically looking at the current political background. The central focus of the play is the corruption of great wealth, which is where the public are usually uninformed. The play is about London society throughout the mid 80s, it condemns the value of Victorian society – it can also be perceived as a social satire.
The Victorian stage melodrama was made up of six stock characters: The hero, villain, heroine, aged parent (Lord Caversham), sidekick and a servant (Phibbs). A stock character is a fictional character that is based upon a stereotype or well-known traits within society. Stock characters rely heavily on the names that they’re provided with (language used, personality and dress code). Stock characters are placed in order for parodies to occur which will amplify any labels connected with these characters. Several stock characters can be applied to characters within ‘An Ideal husband’ and Oscar Wilde’s use of this was intentional to create a comical effect to the play instead of being serious.
As the title may suggest, An Ideal Husband’s main theme is marriage a common principle for the melodrama’s of Oscar Wilde’s era. The Victorian popular theatre provided typical narratives of domestic life that, after several tragedies, would conclude in the repetition of identifiable themes: faithfulness, sacrifice, eternal love, mercy, commitment...

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...lar to a fairy tale story – maybe this was published to be an aspiration of Oscar Wilde’s to get to that stage in life where everybody accepts what’s happened and moves on. E.g. society changing and homosexuality being acceptable and not frowned upon like it was in the Victorian Era.
To conclude, Oscar Wilde has successfully conformed to the model of the well-made play with stock characters and storylines because of how easy it is for the audience to stereotype characters within the play to people they know themselves or other plays/literature etc. Oscar Wilde may have done this in order to create a light hearted way of getting his opinions across to the public without being too serious – scandals and secrets within his own life. The play also leaves the audience thinking and questioning their own lives to what they’ve had to sacrifice to get where they are today.

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