Deception in Victorian Literature
Deception is never a good thing and most times it doesn’t end well. Deception was used to manipulate family members and get out of family affairs. It also has been used as a cover up for an alternative lifestyle. Deception has been used mainly to separate the private self to the public self. Two pieces of literature that have used deception as a role in the lives of the characters are The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, and Gross Indecency: The Three Trails of Oscar Wilde, by Moisés Kaufman.
There are, however, times where deception can become a good thing. For example in The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde deceiving people can turn out to be a good thing in the end. The story is about a man who is one person in the country, and he takes another name when he is in town. He has a friend who also deceives loved ones by saying he has to visit a sickly friend in order to get out of any type of family function. This deception gets them both into trouble when they fall for perspective women who know them as someone they aren’t. For example at one point in the story there are two ladies fighting over a man named Earnest, but both Jack and Algernon say they are Earnest. When the ladies find out that Earnest wasn’t the gentlemen’s real name they get upset, but only because they men didn’t have the name that they wanted them to have.
The play works out in the end because Jack’s real name is Earnest and not Jack. Here Deception was used to become someone they weren’t, and also to be someone different when they were away from their natural environment.
In Gross Indecency: The Three Trails of Oscar Wilde by Moisés Kaufman, Oscar Wilde is the one who has something to hide. He is hiding his lover, and his sexuality from everyone in his life. He is deceiving the public’s view of him, his wife and family, and all other connections that he has in town. This deception doesn’t end well for him. His deception brings up the issue of amorality and what is considered to be so. Through the trials his art is brought up many times and just like in his art, and example being The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde himself deceives. The play itself has the aura as if sometimes it was impromptu role playing by Wilde and this could be because there has been so much deception in his life that he doesn’t know how not to deceive.
Deception played a major part in many of the works written and based off the Victorian Time period. It is a major theme in many of the works one can study from this era. its role has taken on both good and bad outcomes. Most of these start out bad, but end as good; however, there are some like Gross Indecency: The Three Trails of Oscar Wilde, by Moisés Kaufman where the go from bad to worse.
Kaufman, Moisés. Gross Indecency: The Three Trails of Oscar Wilde. New York: Joyce Ketay Agency, 1999. Print
Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. Cork, Ireland: Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition, 2008. The Importance of Being Earnest. CELT Online at University College, 2008. Web. <http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/E850003-002/>.