Lady Windmere's Fan

Lady Windermere's Fan

by Oscar Wilde

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Themes

By showing in St. James's, Wilde was targeting a fashionable, upper-middle class audience and Wilde maps out the geography of their world, Grosvenor Square, Curzon Street, the park, with precision.[11] Peter Raby has also highlighted Lady Windermere's Fan as a good example of Wilde's most successful dramatic technique: the juxtaposition of the comic and the serious. "Once the absurd and the patently false have been established, the serious emotions and ideas which are explored have been given a setting which prevents them from ever becoming too serious".[12]

Scholar Paul Fortunato describes Oscar Wilde as a modernist, who used his modern aesthetics so as to direct him into the realm of mass culture. Wilde's huge popularity as a playwright began with his production of Lady Windermere's Fan, his recherché attitude and personal aesthetics reflected in his writing. Fortunato elaborates on the facets of his aestheticism- an aestheticism that distorts and lies on the surface, rejects any notion of an authentic self, and centres on the female aesthete and woman of fashion. As he describes, understanding Wilde as a modernist through his writing of Lady Windermere's Fan can help us understand the disparity between mass culture and high society. Wilde bridges this by theorising his modern aesthetics beneath the ornamental surface of fashion and elite society. The fan that strings together the play's scenes simultaneously evokes a traditional symbol of modesty while revealing a truly modern current of infidelity.[13]

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