An Ideal Husband

by Oscar Wilde

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Topics for Further Study

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 252

• Research the circumstances surrounding Oscar Wilde’s trial and imprisonment.

• The two years Wilde spent in prison ruined his health. Late-nineteenth-century prison conditions were harsh and hard labor as a punishment was common. Research prisons and the treatment of prisoners in England from 1890, plotting the major prison reforms of the twentieth century.

• Research Wilde’s mother, Lady Jane Francesca Wilde, née Elgee. What works of literature did she publish under her own name? What did she publish under the pen name ‘‘Speranza,’’ and what was her role as a political writer in the cause of Irish independence?

• Research the major Irish uprisings against British rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Explore, for example, the Easter Uprising of 1916.

• Research the history of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Are they freedom fighters, or terrorists, in your view?

• Study one or two plays by the eighteenth-century- British playwright William Congreve, a master of the comedy of manners. Compare one of the plays to Wilde’s An Ideal Husband or The Importance of Being Earnest.

• Wilde’s father Sir William Wilde was an aural surgeon and oculist known throughout Europe for his expertise. What was the science of ears and eyes of the time? How successful were the operations of eye and ear surgeons then compared to today? Who were some of Sir William’s most well-known patients?

• Wilde’s mother was an active feminist, besides being an Irish patriot. Investigate her feminist activities and the activities of feminists of the time.

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