Daily Archives: 30 Jan 2017

Monday, 30 Jan 2017


Foster (Ch 2 & 3)


RUR, Continued

Read and respond to Act 3 and the Epilogue.



Literary Close Reading

This video uses a poem to demonstrate the technique of literary close reading.

After you have watched the video, demonstrate your ability to perform a literary close reading on a passage from a dramatic work.

  1. Choose a brief passage (about 50-200 words long) from Trifles or The Proposal — a passage you have not already written about. Your passage may include one or more people speaking, and it may include stage directions. Paste this new passage your new blog entry.
  2. Apply what you have learned about literary close reading by presenting an interpretation of the words you chose to write about. (I am not asking you to demonstrate your ability to paraphrase, or list what various symbols “could mean”, or to use details from the literary work to support a point about marriage, or women’s rights, or class, or how life back then was different than it is now, or anything else in the real world.)
  3. You are welcome to refer to and quote from other parts of the play, or from Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor; however, if you do, your goal should be to illustrate some point about the specific words you have chosen to analyze.
  4. Write an academic paragraph (about 200 words) that demonstrates your ability to use brief quotations from the literary source in order to support a non-obvious, evidence-supported interpretive claim about the literary text.
  5. Use the “Login/Blog Me” button, submit the permalink, and engage with your peers by leaving thoughtful comments. (That is the standard formula for any reading response.)

The Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde)


Wilde as Parodist

Respond to these passages during class:

The point of Wilde’s satire is found in the nature of Algernon’s reformation. Be- fore his first interview with Cecily is over, Algernon is engaged to be married and reconciled to getting christened. But he had already been exploded in his very first exchange with Cecily, when his supposedly irretrievable sophistication is bested by the supposedly artless and sheltered country girl’s supersophistication: “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pre- tending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” With this the wit has passed from Alger- non to Cecily, and he never regains it at any time when she is on the scene. The moral of Wilde’s parody: the rake is a fake, girlish innocence is the bait of a monstrous mantrap, the wages of sin is matrimony.


Wilde’s specialty, the squinting epigram that is at once murder- ous and suicidal, is perfectly at home in Earnest. It is the verbal function of that queer double consciousness that permeates the whole play and transforms it into a kind of parody. It is quite right that Cecily, who maneuvers under the aegis of wide-eyed innocence, should say of her own journal of unspoiled reactions, “It is simply a very young girl’s record of her own thoughts and impressions, and con- sequently meant for publication.” Here burlesque of the Miranda character fuses with exposure of a grotesque type of litterateuse. A similar satiric fusion takes place when Cecily discovers that her innocent “nanny,” Miss Prism, is, surprisingly, one of the three-volume ladies of Richardsonian sentiment and sensation. Cecily hopes that her novel did not end happily. “The good,” answers prim Miss Prism, with shrewd business prowess, “ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” Such passages, deftly worked into the total fabric of the comedy, hold the key to Wilde’s methods and purposes. By ex- posing and burlesquing the vacuities of a moribund literature Wilde satirizes, too, the society that sustains and produces it; he has given us an oblique perspective on a society’s shallowness through direct ridi- cule of the shallow art in which it sees its reflection.

Foster, Richard. “Wilde as Parodist: A Second Look at The Importance of Being Earnest.” College English, volume 18, number 1, 1956, pp. 18-23.