critical articles & Earnest adaptations

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This article is an etiquette text along with some academic criticism about the set-up and etiquette rules surrounding Victorian meals. This may help for blocking and also be an aid to the actors regarding social interaction cues. 

Kapetanios Meir, Natalie. "A Fashionable Dinner is Arranged as Follows": Victorian Dining Taxonomies." Victorian Literature and Culture 33.1 (2005): 133-148. 

"A Fashionable Dinner is Arranged as Follows": Victorian Dining Taxonomies.

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This article examines decadence in the Victorian era as more than an aesthetic movement, but as a parody in itself of the Romantic movement that came before it-- where Wordsworth wrote of nature, Wilde wrote of gilded lilies. Dowling discusses Wilde in depth and his place as the figurehead of decadence, particularly in terms of his sexual exploits, highly publicized in 1895 (the year Earnest was written) because he was being put on trial by his lover’s father. This new view of the decadence of the day adds an interesting layer to my research in terms of the way Wilde was parodying the type of people depicted in his play—himself included.

Dowling, Linda C. Language and Decadence in the Victorian Fin De Siecle. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986. 

Language and Decadence in the Victorian Fin De Siecle

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This article discusses not only the habits of Victorians at tea, but at all their meals. The more perspectives and accounts with more illuminations the better. 

Simpson, Richard V. "Late Victorian American Eating Habits, Table Etiquette and the Finger Bowl." Antiques & Collecting Magazine 115.9 (2010): 38. 

Late Victorian American Eating Habits, Table Etiquette and the Finger Bowl

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This article provides an exhaustive recreation and examination of Victorian hat wearing customs as observed in the literature of the time.

Hughes, Clair. "Hats On, Hats Off." Cultural Studies Review 22.1 (2016): 118.  

Hats On, Hats Off

Critical Articles




It has been known to a few of the many readers and playgoers who have delighted in The Importance of Being Earnest that Oscar Wilde originally wrote this comedy in four acts. In the form in which the play was first produced, it consisted of three acts, and it has been played in that form ever since.


The original version contained a whole scene, with one fresh character, besides a good deal of additional dialogue, all of which Wilde cut out in revising the script. George Alexander, the manager of the St. James's Theatre and the producer of the play, did not like the idea of another character who appeared only in one particular scene. So, to oblige him, the author condensed Acts II and III to form a single act, and dropped the scene with the extra character, whose name was Gribsby. That the most drastic part of the curtailment, the actual compression of the four acts in three, was done shortly before the comedy was presented is clear from the fact that the counterfoil of the license to perform, issued by the office of the Lord Chamberlain which is dated 30 January 1895, states that the play is in four acts, although the actual copy deposited is in three. (Source)

Film (2002)

Film (1952)

Handbag by Mark Ravenhill

Handbag is an angry, satirical, penetrating play about parenthood, which collides a reimagining of events from Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest with the life of a newborn baby in the nineties, the child of a lesbian couple and a gay couple.