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Revising WildeSociety and Subversion in the Plays of Oscar Wilde$
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Sos Eltis

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198121831

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198121831.001.0001

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Oscar Wilde: Anarchist, Socialist, and Feminist

Oscar Wilde: Anarchist, Socialist, and Feminist

(p.6) 1 Oscar Wilde: Anarchist, Socialist, and Feminist
Revising Wilde

Sos Eltis

Oxford University Press

Disobedience, rebellion, and resistance to the decrees of authority were the central tenets of Oscar Wilde's personal philosophy. The young Wilde viewed rebellion against authority as essential to human advancement and social development. As he observed a few pages later: ‘Progress is simply the instinct of self-preservation in humanity, the desire to affirm one's own essence’. Wilde's belief in the overriding importance of disobedience, self-assertion, and dissent endured throughout his life and formed the basis of his individual code. His interest in radical politics, his sympathy with women's struggle to assert their individual rights in opposition to the strictures of Victorian convention, his distrust of all forms of government, influence, and control, can all be seen as logical consequences of his belief that ‘Progress in thought is the assertion of individualism against authority’.

Keywords:   Oscar Wilde, rebellion, philosophy, authority, social development, progress, politics, dissent, disobedience, self-assertion

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