Lady Windermere's Fan

Lady Windermere's Fan Study Guide

Lady Windermere's Fan is a four-act play written by Oscar Wilde. Like other plays by Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan is a play that satirizes British society.

The play was produced in 1892 and then published a year later at the insistence of Sir George Alexander, the actor-manager of St James's theater. Lady Windermere's Fan is Oscar Wilde’s fifth play, but while the first three were unsuccessful and the fourth was censored, Lady Windermere's Fan was highly successful, bringing Oscar Wilde both fame and a large sum of money. The play Lady Windermere's Fan made Oscar Wilde famous as a playwright and the techniques he used in the play create a perfect balance between seriousness and comedy.

The play abounds in themes that were considered clichés during Oscar Wilde’s time, but the manner in which they are presented and the way in which the play is written assured its success.

Oscar Wilde wrote the play during his stay with his friends in North England and many of the characters have names that bear a resemblance to names given to lakes and towns.

Wilde attacks the double-faced aristocratic society while also incorporating his ideas about aestheticism in the play. The play presents a society that is mainly focused on what lies beneath the surface and ignores what really matters, that is the soul of a person. Through Lady Windermere's Fan, a modern reader can understand Victorian society and the social dynamics from that time.