The individual stylistic features of Oscar Wilde’s plays
1. Preconditions for Oscar Wilde's literary style forming and capacity of his plays
1.1. Aestheticism and philosophy of O. Wilde as a basis for his individual literary style
1.2. O. Wilde's creative genius and his writings
2. Stylistic Features of Oscar Wilde's Plays
2.1. Definition of style and its peculiarities
2.2. Lexical EM and SD analysis of O. Wilde's texts
2.3. Syntactical EM and SD analysis of O. Wilde's plays
INTRODUCTIONOscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 - 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day.
Wilde's power to arouse fantasies in others - and to fulfill them - is seemingly inexhaustible. Everyone has an opinion about Oscar Wilde: his life, style and literature - and all these opinions are very different and contradi ctory. It is also true that opinions about no other author have been so ill-informed. From the beginning, there appeared to be about O. Wilde something slightly slant. Earlier in the century the fantasies perhaps might have been dispelled. At the end of the XX century and now the same fantasies continued to circulate. So it really impossible to say exactly when O. Wilde became a very important public figure as he is still it: his influence on modern art, literature, philosophy, stylistics and our life in the whole is still very important, essential and many-valued. [Siegel 1996: 32]
It seems rather difficult to go into details with regards to lots of expressive means and stylistic devices in Oscar Wilde's plays as they are too many, forming his inimitable individual style. As it is known stylistics treats with special means of the language that help us to have vivid and interesting speech and O. Wilde's plays considered to be a real treasure for stylistic research [Kazantsev 2006: 4]. These facts underline urgency and the importance of the topic of our scientific paper: "Individual Stylistic Features of Oscar Wilde's Plays".
Existing researches review. Individual stylistic features of Oscar Wilde's plays have become one of the central variables in scientific research during the last years and also last centuries in many countries of the world and has been the subject of various articles and books that have shown a complex variety of opinions and aspects. In this connection it is very important to mention the names of such Russian and foreign researchers as P. Akroyd, A. A.Anikst, B. Bashford, K. Beckson, J. Bristow, R. Elman, A. Gide, R. J.Green, M. J.Guy, F. Harris, V. Igoe, R. Jackson, S. V.Kazantsev, V. A.Lukov, S. King, L. Marcus, N. P.Mikhalskaya, R. Merle, R. K.Miller, H. Montgomery, P. Nicholls, A. Randsome, E. Richard, R. Ross, N. Sammells, G. B.Shaw, S. F.Siegel, I. Small, H. T.Smith, N. V.Solomatina, V. B.Sosnovskaya, F. Tufescu, J. Wood, W. Yates, etc.)
Besides it the underpinnings of this scientific paper also rest on various theoretical research and scientific articles concerning stylistics and various stylistic aspects (I. V.Arnold, N. E.Enkvist, I. R.Galperin, R. R.Gelgart, I. V.Gubbenet, O. K.Denisova, K. A.Dolinin, L. I.Donetskih, E. G.Kovalevskaya, V.A. Kukharenko, L. Y.Maksimov, V. I.Prokhorova, T. A.Sebeok, E. G.Soshalskaya, V. V.Vinogradov, A. Warner, etc.).
As the object of the work we considered Oscar Wilde's plays.
The subject of the paper - The individual stylistic features of Oscar Wilde's plays.
The purpose of work. The work provides an overview of some expressive means and stylistic devices in Oscar Wilde's plays which helps to underline the author's individual style. In connection with this the main tasks of this scientific paper are:
To explore aestheticism and philosophy of O. Wilde as a basis for his individual literary style and to describe the capacity of his writings;
To clarify the term "style", its components and peculiarities;
To find out individual stylistic features of Oscar Wilde's plays with the help of lexical and syntactical EM and SD analysis of O. Wilde's texts.
The scientific paper consists of introduction, two parts, conclusion and bibliography.
1.1. Aestheticism and philosophy of O. Wilde as a basis for his individual literary styleO. Wilde was particularly well known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements although his thoughts in this sphere which played a great role in forming his individual style and literary views came under attack by many critics, who wrote that Wilde's "effeminacy and strange points of view on art, devotion to beauty in his books would influence negatively the behavior of men and women, that his plays "eclipses real art and generally accepted ideals" [Sammells 2003: 14]. They also scrutinized the links between Oscar Wilde's writing, personal image and views and portraits of his heroes, calling his literary style even "immoral". [Sammells 2003: 15]
It is important to note, that O. Wilde was deeply impressed by the English writers John Ruskin and Walter Pater, who argued for the central importance of art in life. O. Wilde later commented ironically on Pater's suppressed emotions: on being informed of the man's death, he replied, "Was he ever alive?" Reflecting on Pater's view of art, he wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray "All art is quite useless". The statement was meant to be read literally, as it was in keeping with the doctrine of Art for art's sake, coined by the philosopher Victor Cousin, promoted by Theophile Gautier and brought into prominence by James McNeill Whistler. In this manner O. Wilde give lectures on aestheticism in London. [Harris 2007: 22]
The aesthetic movement, represented by the school of William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, had a permanent influence on English decorative art and O. Wilde itself, his literary views. As the leading aesthete in Britain, O. Wilde became one of the most prominent personalities of his day. Though he was sometimes ridiculed for them, his paradoxes and witty sayings were quoted on all sides. [Ross 2008: 4] And we should mention that they are still true-life.
Producer Richard D'Oyly Carte invited O. Wilde for a lecture tour of North America (1881) considered him to be one of the aesthetic movement's charming personalities. Coming to America Wilde reputedly told a customs officer that "I have nothing to declare except my genius", continuing practice his challenging behavior.
During his tour of the United States and Canada, O. Wilde was torn apart by the great number of critics ridiculing him even by cartoons for his aesthetic views, but he was also surprisingly well received in such rough-and-tumble settings as the mining town of Leadville, Colorado [King 2009: 31]. On his return to the United Kingdom O. Wilde was absolutely sure that his mission was "to make this artistic movement the basis for a new civilization". Besides it he wrote that he was "struck with this recognition of the fact that bad art merits the penalty of death". [Harris 2007: 23]
Oscar Wilde sometimes pretended that art was more important than morality, but that was mere play-acting. Morality or immorality was more important than art to him and everyone else. But the very cloud of tragedy that rested on his career makes it easier to treat him as a mere artist now. His was a complete life, in that awful sense in which our life is incomplete; since we have not yet paid for our sins. In that sense one might call it a perfect life. On the one hand we have the healthy horror of the evil from his books; on the other the healthy horror of the punishment. The hope and fault are always near in his plays [Daily News 1909].
In one of his masterpieces he said:
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
Speaking about Oscar Wilde some calling him a great artist and others a mere charlatan. But this controversy misses the really extraordinary thing about Wilde: the thing that appears in his plays. He was a great artist. He also was really a charlatan. We mean by a charlatan one sufficiently dignified to despise the tricks that he employs. He may be lying in every word, but he is sincere in his style. Style (as Wilde might have said) is only another name for spirit. [Bashford 2007: 8]
O. Wilde professed to stand as a solitary artistic soul apart from the public. He professed to scorn the middle class, and declared that the artist must not work for the bourgeois. But the truth is that no artist so really great ever worked so much for the bourgeois as Oscar Wilde. No man, so capable of thinking about truth and beauty, ever thought so constantly about his own effect on the middle classes. He studied them with exquisite attention, and knew exactly how to shock and how to please them. He disgusts them with new truths, he knew how to say the precise thing which, whether true or false, is irresistible [Harris 2007: 13]. As, for example, "I can resist everything but temptation" .
R. Ross, commenting on Wilde's behavior and challenging manner of expression, suggested that Wilde's conduct was more of a bid for notoriety rather than the author devotion to beauty and the aesthetic in his books. ...Wilde's challenging life, being full of scandals, influenced on his manner of writing making it a real challenge to society as all his writings [Ross 2008: 5] and understanding of it offers a clue to the profound exploration of his individual literary style and various expressive means and stylistic devices in Oscar Wilde's plays.1.2. O. Wilde's creative genius and his writingsOscar Wilde was sure that "no artist desires to prove anything, ....the artist must create and reveal the truth" and that is why he is most famous for his sophisticated, brilliantly witty plays, which were the first since the comedies of R. Sheridan and O. Goldsmith to have both dramatic and literary merit.
As Oscar Wilde was one of the Victorian aesthetes he tried to make the writings that should be beautiful in its color and cadence. His extraordinary personality and wit have so dominated the imaginations of most biographers and critics that their estimates of his work have too often consisted of sympathetic tributes to a writer whose literary production was little more than a faint reflection of his brilliant talk or the manifestation of "lawlessness". Indeed, Wilde's remark that he had put his genius into his life and only his talent into his art has provided support to those who regard his life as the primary object of interest. [Miller 1984: 41]
As we could see from the previous section of our work O. Wilde was the center of a group glorifying beauty for itself alone, and he was famously satirized (with other exponents of "art for art's sake"). But nevertheless his first published work, Poems (1881), was well received. The next year he lectured to great acclaim in the United States, where his drama Vera (1883) was produced. After 1884 he began writing for and editing periodicals, but his active literary career began with the publication of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891) and two collections of fairy tales, The Happy Prince (1888) and The House of Pomegranates (1892). In 1891 his novel Picture of Dorian Gray appeared. A tale of horror, it depicts the corruption of a beautiful young man pursuing an ideal of sensual indulgence and moral indifference; although he himself remains young and handsome, his portrait becomes ugly, reflecting his degeneration. [Harris 2007: 45]
Wilde's stories and essays were well received, but his creative genius found its highest expression in his plays - Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), which were all extremely clever and filled with pithy epigrams and paradoxes. O. Wilde explained away their lack of depth by saying that he put his genius into his life and only his talent into his books. He also wrote two historical tragedies, The Duchess of Padua (1892) and Salomé (1893).
It is important to underline the fact that O. Wilde was a man of great originality and power of mind. Oscar Wilde confirmed that art was existing independent of the life and was developing according to its own laws. He quickly became a prominent personality in literary and social circles, but the period of his true achievement did not begin until he published "The Happy Prince and other tales" in 1888. In these fairy tales and fables, Wilde found a literary form well suited to his talents. These stories review and uneasy blend of the moral and the fantastic. [Harris 2007: 24]
Wilde's only novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1890), attracted much attention, and his sayings past from mouth to mouth as those of one of the professed wits of the age. This novel covers the whole range of human experience and imagination.
The career of Oscar Wilde was brief, but, from its beginnings, success smiled on him and he quickly achieved a triumph. Some of his works, his verse, his essays - "Intentions", his fairy tales, his poems in prose "The House of Pomegranates", "The Picture of Dorian Gray", had affirmed that he was a pure artist and a great writer, for certain of his pages are as beautiful as the most beautiful in English prose. But these works were only amusements for him, and versatile mind, so brilliant, so delicately ironic, so paradoxical, found a medium of expression, which perfectly suited his uncommon gifts; it was the theatre.
The theatre played the very important role in Wilde's life. English drama was reborn near the end of the Victorian age. Many critics said that O. Wilde was perhaps less then a mature poet, but a good critic, and a splendid playwright [Ross 2008: 5].
With the perfect sense of the theatre, Oscar Wilde took his characters from high society; he set his elegant marionettes in motion with such mastery that his comedies can be regarded as the wittiest that have been written in a very long time.
Wilde's first dramatic works - early tragedies "Vera; or the Nihilists" (1880) and "The Duchess of Padua" (1883), imitative and artistically weak, had no stable success on the stage. Then there were published his brilliant novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and the critical essays "The Intentions". In these books there were reflected the basic principles of Wilde's aesthetics.
Oscar Wilde has contributed his most important works to the theatre: "Lady Windermere's Fan", "A Woman of No Importance", "An Ideal Husband", "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Salome". Of the first four which had a success without precedent, were constructed with extraordinary skill; they are interesting for their settings, pathetic without evoking tears, witty to the point of excess, and written in a pure literary language. In these plays, Wilde brings together the social intrigues and the witticism. "Salome", which was not presented in London was especially a marvelous poem, which had nothing in common with the modern pieces of the author. [Sammells 2003: 51]
O. Wilde's plays were written in a light satirical vein, cultured and refined, and in good taste. His characters served as the mouths to enunciate the author's exquisitely funny remarks on society.
The reputation of Oscar Wilde as a writer and a critic was doubtful for many critics, but almost all of them considered him to be a brilliant dramatist of his time. Wilde's fame rests chiefly on his comedies of fashionable life: "Lady Windermere's Fan", "An Ideal Husband", "A Woman of No Importance" and "The Importance of Being Earnest". The sparkling wit and vivacity, characteristic of these plays, helped them to keep the stage for more than half a century. In spite of their superficial drawing-room treatment of human problems, they are still attractive to numerous theatergoers because of their brilliancy of dialogue and entertaining plot.
The basis of the moral conflict and aesthetic values which was very close to O. Wilde and his heroes still influences on our present and future. The authors speech was full of paradoxical judgments which are well known in our days:
"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Conscience is the trade name of the firm. That is all"; "Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose"; "Life is far too important a thing to talk seriously about it" and many others.
In 1895 Wilde was at the peak of his career and had three hit plays running at the same time. At the same year he found himself under the trial. As a result O. Wilde became involved in a hopeless legal dispute and was sentenced to two years in prison at hard labor. After his release in 1897, Wilde published "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", a poem of considerable but unequal power. This poem gave the impression that he was again going to produce works worthy of his talents. But it was his last word to the world.
For the last three years he had lived abroad. Ruined in health, finances and creative energy, but with his characteristic wit, he died in France in 1990. But the voices of Wilde's brilliant plays continue to be heard. And it is not the exaggeration to call his plays one of the most wittiest comedies of the nineteenth century and our days.
Part 2. Stylistic Features of Oscar Wilde's Plays
2.1. Definition of style and its peculiaritiesBefore to begin the topic research it is necessary to highlight and clarify the term "style" and its peculiarities. It is important to mention that the word "style" has a very broad meaning. The style of any period is the result of a variety of complex and shifting pressures and influences. [Arnold 1975: 12] Books reflect our experience, but our experience is also shaped by the books. That is why there is the constant interaction between life and literature, life and literary style of any writer as we could see from our analysis in the previous part of our paper.
So we could underline three main influences that pressure on the individual writer's style: 1) his personality, his philosophy and own way of thinking and feeling that determines his mode of expression; 2) the occasion on which he is writing, the particular purpose; 3) the influence of the age in which he lives. In other words, a writer's style is his individual and creative choice of the resources of the language [Gelgardt 1979: 4]. So there are many definitions of style. According to R. Chapman, a good style of writing has three qualities, which may be described as accuracy, ease and grace [Warner 2003: 142]. According to G.-L. Buffon, in reality the style is the man himself [ibid: 141]. That is why the essence of style is multi-topic and its peculiarities and components are carefully explored by the separate scientific branch - stylistics.
Stylistics, sometimes called linguostylistics, is a branch of general linguistics. and deals mainly with two interdependent tasks: the investigation of the inventory of special language media which by their ontological features secure the desirable effect of the utterance; certain types of texts (discourse) which due to the choice and arrangement of language means are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication. [Vinogradov 1991: 17]
The two objectives of stylistics are clearly discernible as two separate fields of investigation. The types of texts can be analyzed if their linguistic components are presented in their interaction, thus, revealing the unbreakable unity and transparency of constructions of a given type. The types of texts that are distinguished by the pragmatic aspect of the communication are called functional styles of language (FS). The special media of language which secure the desirable effect of the utterance are called stylistic devices (SD) and expressive means (EM).
The first field of investigation - SDs and EMs, necessarily touches upon such general language problems as the aesthetic function of language, synonymous ways of rendering one and the same idea, emotional colouring in language, the interrelation between language and thought, the individual manner of an author in making use of language and a number of other issues. The second field - functional styles, touches upon such most general linguistic issues as oral and written varieties of language, the notion of literary language, the constituents of texts larger than the sentence, the generative aspect of literary texts and some others.
In linguistics there are different terms to denote particular means by which utterances are foregrounded. Most linguists distinguish ordinary semantic and stylistic differences in meaning and three main levels of expressive means and stylistic devices: phonetic, lexical and syntactical. [Denisova 1980: 24]
In our scientific work we are going to explore lexical and syntactical EM and SD, considering them the most bright and vivid units of the language especially in O. Wilde's texts. Lexical expressive means and stylistic devices. The main function of the word is to denote. Thus, the denotational meaning is the major semantic characteristic of the word. The words in context may acquire additional lexical meanings not fixed in dictionaries. What is known in linguistics as "transferred meaning" is particularly the interrelation between two types of lexical meaning: dictionary and contextual. When the deviation from the acknowledged meaning is carried to a degree that it causes an unexpected turn in the recognised logical meanings, we register a stylistic device. Syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices. Stylistic study of the syntax begins with the study of the length and the structure of the sentence. Stylistic syntactical patterns may be viewed as variants of the general syntactical models of the language and are the more obvious and conspicuous if presented not as isolated elements or accidental usage, but as group easily observable and lending themselves to generalisation. [Vinogradov 1991: 37]
The brief outline of the most characteristic features of the language style and its components shows that there are a great number of features which could be explored. In our scientific work we'll investigate some of them with the help of O'Wilde's brilliant plays.
2.2. Lexical EM and SD analysis of O. Wilde's textsAfter understanding the concept of style we could logically start analyzing some lexical expressive means and stylistic devices used by Oscar Wilde in his plays.
Epigram and paradox. Epigrams and paradoxes as stylistic devices are used for creating generalised images. Paradox is based on contrast, being a statement contradictory to what is accepted as a self-evident or proverbial truth. Paradox can be considered a figure of speech with certain reservations, since the aesthetic principle, that underlies it, i. e. contrast has divers linguistic manifestations. [Sosnovskaya 2004: 65]
Epigram is a stylistic device akin to a proverb, the only difference being that epigrams are coined by individuals whose names we know, while proverbs are the coinage of the people. In other words, we are always aware of the parentage of an epigram and therefore, when using one, we usually make a reference to its author. [Galperin 2002: 184]
Epigrams and paradoxes as stylistic devices are usually used in the Present Indefinite Tense which makes them abstract.
The majority critics of the nineteenth century noted that O. Wilde was the most paradoxical writer of his time.
E. g. "Women are pictures, Men are problems." (p.132)
In Wilde's paradoxes and epigrams the verb "to be" is widely used. This verb intensifies the genetic function and makes aphorisms and paradoxes humorous. It makes also the ironical definition of phenomena of life.
E. g. "A man who moralises is usually a hypocrite, and a woman who moralises is invariably plain." (p.67).
One of the most characteristic and essential features of epigrams and paradoxes is their shortness and conciseness. They are achieved by the syntactical pattern of an epigram or paradox. The syntax of these stylistic devices is laconic and clear - cut.
E. g. "Do not use bid words. They mean so little" (p.253).
In these examples we can see the parallel constructions widely used by Oscar Wilde. They serve a perfect means of creating the clear-cut syntax of epigrams and paradoxes.
Irony and pun. Irony is a stylistic device in which the contextual evaluative meaning of a word is directly opposite to its dictionary meaning. [Kukharenko 1986: 46]
Like many other stylistic devices, irony does not exist outside the context.
E. g. "My father told me to go to bed an hour ago. I don't see why I shouldn't give you the same advice. I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself." (p.189)
The word "advice" is suggested for acceptance if it is good and for rejection if it is not good, but not for passing on it. In fact, Lord Goring, the speaker of this phrase, is a serious person, who knows that a good advice may be very useful.
Pun (paronomasia, a play on words) is the next stylistic device used by Oscar Wilde in his plays. Pun is a figure of speech emerging as an effect created by words similar or identical in their sound form and contrastive or incompatible in meaning. [Sosnovskaya 2004: 55]
We can find pun even in the titles of Oscar Wilde's plays, e. g. "The Importance of Being Earnest". But to understand this pun we must read the whole play, because the name of the hero and the adjective meaning "seriously-minded" are both existing in our mind.
Pun is based on the effect of deceived expectation, because unpredictability in it is expressed either in the appearance of the elements of the text unusual for the reader or in the unexpected reaction of the addressee of the dialogue.
For Oscar Wilde pun is one of the most effective means used for creating wit, brilliancy and colourfulness of his dialogues for criticism of bourgeois morality. At the same time the puns serve for showing the author's ideas and thoughts.
E. g. "Lord Darlington: Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They are the only things we can pay."(p.26)
These examples show that the play on words has a great influence on the reader. The speech of the hero becomes more vivid and interesting.
Most of Wilde's puns are based on polysemy.
E. g. "Lady H.: she lets her clever tongue run away with her.
Lady C.: is that the only Mrs. Allonby allows to run away with her?" (p.100)
In this example the pun is realised in the remark of the second person. The first meaning of the expression "to run away with" - is "not to be aware of what you are speaking", and the second meaning is "to make off taking something with you". The first meaning is figurative and the second is direct.
As a rule, when two meanings of the word are played upon, one of them is direct, the other is figurative, which can be illustrated by some of the above mentioned examples. So, we can see, that irony and pun also play the very important role in Wilde's plays. The effect of these stylistic devices is based on the author's attitude to the English bourgeois society. Thus irony and pun help O. Wilde to show that majority of his heroes are the typical representatives of the bourgeois society: thoughtless, frivolous, greedy, envious, mercenary people. A play upon contrasts and contradictions lies at the basis of author's sarcastic method in portraying his characters. The dynamic quality of Wilde's plays is increased by the frequent ironical sentences and puns. These stylistic devices convey the vivid sense of reality in the picture of the 19-th century English upper-class society.
Simile is one more stylistic device very often used by Wilde in his plays. It is the intensification of someone feature of the concept in question is realized in a device. To use a simile is to characterize one object by bringing it into contact with another object belonging to an entirely different class of things. [Galperin 2002: 167]
E. g. "But she is really like a Tanagra statuette, and would be rather annoyed if she were told so". (p.175),
"She" and "statuette" belong to heterogeneous classes of objects and Wilde has found that the beauty of Mabel Chiltern may be compared with the beauty of the ancient Tanagra statuette. Of the two concepts brought together in the Simile - one characterized (Mabel Chiltern), and the other characterizing (Statuette) - the feature intensified will be more inherent in the latter than in the former. Moreover, the object characterized, is seen in quite a new and unexpected light, because the author as it were, imposes this feature on it.
The properties of an object may be viewed from different angles. Accordingly, similes may be based on adjective-attributes, adverbs-modifiers, verb-predicates, etc.
E. g. "Twenty years of romance make a woman look like a ruin; but twenty years of marriage make her something like a public building." (p.110)
So, simile is another stylistic device frequently used by Oscar Wilde in his plays. It shows the individual viewpoint of the author on different objects, actions, and phenomena. The literary similes in his plays gain especially wonderful character as they make the text more expressive and more interesting.
Epithet is also a frequently used stylistic device by Oscar Wilde. As a device it is based on the interplay of emotive and logical meaning in an attributive word, phrase or even sentence, used to characterise an object and pointing out to the reader and frequently imposing on him. It is, as a rule, simple in form. In the majority of cases it consists of one word: adjective or adverb, modifying respectively nouns or verbs. [Galperin 2002: 158]
Epithet on the whole shows purely individual emotional attitude of the speaker towards the object spoken of, it describes the object as it appears to the speaker. Its basic features are its emotiveness and subjectivity: the characteristic attached to the object to qualify it is always chosen by the speaker himself.
E. g. "But I tell you that the only bitter words that ever came from those sweet lips of hers were on your account, and I hate to see you next her". (p.83)
Epithet has remained over the centuries the most widely used stylistic device, it offers the ample opportunities of qualifying every object from the author's partial and subjective viewpoint, which is indispensable in creative prose. In his plays O. Wilde used very colorful epithets, which sometimes help him to show the difference between pretence and reality.
Wilde's epithets give a brilliant colour and wonderful witticism to his plays. With the help of epithets Wilde's heroes are more interesting, their speech is more emotive; they involve the reader in their reality, in their life. His epithets are based on different sources, such as nature, art, history, literature, mythology, everyday life, man, etc. They reflect Wilde's opinions and viewpoints about different things. They give emphasis and rhythm to the text.
E. g. "Those straw-colored women have dreadful tempers."(p.50)
The examples above shows that Oscar Wilde may be really called a master of colorful and vivid epithets.
In O. Wilde's plays we can also find such stylistic device as hyperbole (overstatement) which is used for intensifying one certain property of the object. [Galperin 2002: 167]
V. V.Vinogradov said "Genuine art enjoys the right to exaggerate", stating that hyperbole is the law of art which brings the existing phenomena of life, diffused as they are, to the point of maximum clarity and conciseness. [Vinogradov, 79: 32]
In hyperbole there is always a transference of meaning as there is discrepancy with objective reality. The words are no used in their direct sense.
E. g. "I have never loved anyone in the world but you". (p.36)
In order to depict the degree of the love of his character Wilde resorts to the use of these hyperboles. So one of the most important function of hyperbole is the emotional expressiveness.
In other hyperboles O. Wilde uses the exaggeration of the quantitative aspect.
E. g. "I have met hundreds of good women". (p.73)
They make their way not on the direct meaning, but on the great emotional influence. But literary hyperbole is not the simple speech figure. They may be also called the means of artistic characterization. It is one of the most important means of building up the plot of the text, the imagery and expressiveness. It is the transmission of the author's thought. In order to create his hyperboles O. Wilde uses such words as "hundreds", "thousands", "all the time", "nothing in the world", etc. Wilde's hyperboles bring the brightness, expressiveness and the emotional color of the language.
Metaphor is one of the most frequently used stylistic devices by O. Wilde. It means transference of some quality from one object to another. A metaphor becomes a stylistic device when two different phenomena (things, events, ideas, actions) are simultaneously brought to mind by the imposition of some or all of the inherent properties of one object on the other which by nature is deprived of these properties [Galperin 2002: 139]
The metaphors reveal the attitude of the writer to the object, action or concept and express his views. They may also reflect the literary school which he belongs and the epoch in which he lives. Oscar Wilde's fine metaphors play an important role in portraying his heroes, their feelings and thoughts.
E. g. "Ideals are dangerous things. Realities are better. They wound, but they are better."(p.87)
A metaphor can exist only within a context. A separate word isolated from the context has its general meaning. Metaphor plays an important role in the development of language. Words acquire new meanings by transference.
E. g. "Lord Illingworth: That silly Puritan girl making a scene merely because I wanted to kiss her. What harm is there in a kiss?
Mrs. Arbuthnot: A kiss may ruin a human life. I know that too well."(p.166).
The metaphorical effect of this sentence is based on the personal feelings of Mrs. Arbuthnot. Her sad experience of life sounds in this phrase. When she was young, she had a great love. But her passion had left her and "her life was ruined." That is why this metaphor has a true effective power when it is pronounced by Mrs. Arbuthnot.
Metaphors can be classified according to their degree of unexpectedness. Thus, metaphors which are absolutely unexpected, that is are quite unpredictable, are called genuine metaphors. Wilde's metaphors develop the reader's imagination. At the same time the author reflects his own point of view.
E. g. "Divorces are made in Heaven". (p. 285)
"Youth is the Lord of Life". (p.137)
The charm of O. Wilde's plays is due to the mixture of poetic metaphors and real images. The author does not convince the reader to make the resulting points, but he makes him indirectly judge the heroes and clear the situation. The meanings of O. Wildes metaphors are understandable for any reader, of any age and any interests. They produce a dynamic character of the plot and show that Wilde is a man of genius.
In O. Wilde's plays we can also find some metonymies. They are based on a different type of relation between the dictionary and contextual meanings, a relation based not on identification, but on some kind of association connecting the two concepts which these meanings represent. [Galperin 2002: 144]
So metonymy is a transference of meaning based on a logical or physical connection between things. It is one of the means of forming the new meanings of words in the language.
Oscar Wilde does not pay much attention to metonymy. But his metonymies have a great potential power. They reach the emotional reliability, which creates the effect of reader's presence in the literary world.
E. g. "She was stern to me, but she taught me what the world is forgetting, the difference that there is between what is right and what is wrong". (p. 28)
"Do you think seriously that women who have committed what the world calls a fault should never be forgiven?" (p.30)
In these examples we can see the same metonymy, that is used by the same word "world". Here the author means the people who love in the world. Here we also can see that container is used instead of the thing contained: "world" instead of "people".
Making a conclusion to analyzing stylistic devices we can say that Oscar Wilde used really a great number of them in his plays. And they all helped him really ingeniously express his thoughts and feelings, making his individual style expressive and vivid, and his texts plain, close and understandable to everybody.
2.2. Syntactical EM and SD analysis of O. Wilde's playsThe examination of syntactical level provides a deeper insight into the stylistic aspect of the utterance and plays an important role in the evaluating of language expressive means. [Kovalevskaya 1976: 22]
Unlike the syntactical expressive means of the language, which are naturally used in discourse in a straight-forward natural manner, syntactical stylistic devices are perceived as elaborate designees aimed at having a definite impact on the reader. [Galperin 2002: 145]
Among syntactical expressive means O. Wilde very often used repetition which is recurrence of the same word, word combination or a phase for two and more times. [ibid: 144] It is used when the speaker is under the stress of strong emotion and shows the state of mind of the speaker:
E. g. "I love you - love you as I have never loved any living thing. From the moment I met you I loved you, loved you blindly, adoringly, madly!" (p.54)
So repetition is a powerful means of emphasis, it adds rhythm and balance to the utterance. O. Wilde's repetitions help us to be closer to the hero, to understand his feelings. They also can be considered as a powerful mean of emphasis and coloring of individual author's style as they add rhythm and balance to the text.
Among other syntactical expressive means used by Oscar Wilde we can see inversion which is very often used as an independent stylistic device in which the direct word order is changed either completely so that the predicate (predicative) precedes the subject, or partially, so that the object precedes the subject - predicate pair. The aim of it is to attach logical stress or additional emotional coloring to the surface meaning of the utterance. [Galperin 2002: 156]
It is very important to say that inversion is always sense-motivated; and it depends on the context. Reading Oscar Wilde's plays we can see that the author doesn't pay much attention to inversion, but nevertheless there are some examples of it:
E. g. "Except amongst the middle classes I have been told". (p.119)
In the meantime O. Wilde rather often used in his plays parallel constructions - a device which may be encountered not so much in the sentence as in the macro-structures dealt with earlier, with the syntactical whole and the paragraph. The necessary condition in parallel construction is identical, or similar, syntactical structure in two or more sentences or parts of a sentence". [Galperin 2002: 159] Parallel constructions could be called a perfect mean of creating the clean-cut syntax of O. Wilde plays. They deal with logical, rhythmic, emotive and expressive aspects of the utterance and create rhythmical shape of the sentence, making it more emotional, vivid and even musical, adding wonderful sound and expressiveness.
E. g. "How hard good women are! How weak bad men are!" (p.79)
Another syntactical stylistic device used by O. Wilde in his plays is enumeration by which separate things, objects, properties or actions are named one by one so that they produce a chain, the links of which, being syntactically in the same position (homogeneous parts of speech), are forced to display some kind of semantic homogeneity, remote though it may seem. [Galperin 2002: 216]
E. g. "I have also in my possession, you will be pleased to hear certificates of Ms. Cardew's birth, baptism, whooping cough, registration, vaccination, confirmation, and the measles". (p.342)
Analyzing this sentence we can see the musical chain of enumeration. It gives more objective value of the character's speech, shows the variety of thoughts and feelings.
One of the most typical syntactical stylistic device for Wilde's plays is ellipsis - an intentional omission from an utterance of one or more words. [Sosnovskaya 2004: 68] The meaning of omitted words is easy to understand by the context.
E. g. "Quite sure of." (p.150)
Ellipsis gives the picture of real life, real people, their feelings and emotions in O. Wilde's plays. It adds a certain charm to the conversation.
In O. Wilde's plays we can also find lexico-syntactical stylistic devices, for example chiasmus which is based on the repetition of a syntactical pattern but it has a cross order of words and phrases. [Galperin 2002: 221]
E. g. "All the married men live like bachelors, and all the bachelors like married men." (p.116)
The effect of a cross order of words in this example produces an ironic character. Like parallel construction, chiasmus contributes to the rhythmical quality of the utterance in O. Wilde's texts.
One more stylistic device used in O. Wilde's plays is antithesis which is based on relative opposition which arises out of the context through the expansion of objectively contrasting pairs. Syntactically antithesis is just another case of parallel constructions. But unlike parallelism the two parts of an antithesis must be semantically opposite to each other [Galperin 2002: 222]
E. g. "Curious thing, plain women are always jealous of their husbands, beautiful women never are!" (p.110)
Here we can see the semantic contrast, which is formed with the help of objectively contrasting pair "plain - beautiful", "always - never".
All the examples above show that syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices played a very important role in Oscar Wilde's style. With the help of them Oscar Wilde, who was a talented writer, can make us feel the way he wants. We can find different syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices in Oscar Wilde's plays such as parallel constructions, repetition, chiasmus, antithesis and many others. These expressive means help the author to create his individual elegant, humorous and challenging style.
CONCLUSIONHaving analyzed the four plays of Oscar Wilde: "Lady Windermere's Fan", "A Woman of No Importance", "An Ideal Husband", "The Importance of Being Earnest", we came to a conclusion that O. Wilde skilful, playing, understandable to everybody and challenging to the society with its truth individual style was formed with the help of a great variety of lexical and syntactical stylistic devices and expressive means.
Among the lexical ones we can see epigrams and paradoxes which played one of the most important roles in Wilde's plays. With the help of these stylistic devices Wilde reflects his own viewpoints on the society of his time, his opinions about life, love and friendship, men and women. Paradoxes and epigrams create the individuality of Oscar Wilde and made him worldwide famous for many brilliant and the wittiest of them.
The specific, cynical quality of Wilde's irony is manifested in his manner of writing. This device allowed Wilde to reveal incongruity of the world around him and to show the viciousness of the upper-class society.
Pun was another effective mean used for creating wit, brilliancy and colourfulness of O. Wilde's dialogues, serving for his criticism of bourgeois morality, showing the author's ideas and thoughts.
The dynamic quality of Wilde's plays is increased by the frequent ironical sentences and puns. These stylistic devices convey the vivid sense of reality in the picture of the 19-th century English upper-class society.
Wilde's realism with its wonderful epigrams and paradoxes, brilliant irony and amusing puns initiates the beginning of a new era in the development of the English play.
Wilde's epithets also give a brilliant color and wonderful witticism to his plays a and his literary style. With the help of epithets Wilde's heroes are more interesting, their speech is more emotive; they involve the reader in their reality, in their life. Wilde uses a great amount of epithets in his plays. They are based on different sources, such as nature, art, history, literature, mythology, everyday life, man, etc. Wilde may be also called a master of colourful and vivid epithets.
The charm of O. Wilde's plays and his style can be also seen due to the mixture of poetic metaphors and real images. The author does not convince the reader to make the resulting points, but he makes him indirectly judge the heroes and clear the situation. The meanings of O. Wildes metaphors are understandable for any reader, of any age and any interests. They produce a dynamic character of the plot and show that Wilde is a man of genius.
Simile is another interesting stylistic device used by Oscar Wilde in his plays. It shows the individual viewpoint of the author on different objects, actions, and phenomena.
Hyperbole is also frequently used by O. Wilde. In order to create his hyperboles O. Wilde uses such words as "hundreds", "thousands", "all the time", "nothing in the world", etc. Wilde's hyperboles bring the brightness, expressiveness and the emotional color of his style. Hyperbole is like a magnifying glass; it helps to observe in details his plays and style.
As a brief conclusion we can say that Oscar Wilde resorts to the use of a great number of stylistic devices in his plays.
Speaking about syntactical expressive means and stylistic devices in O. Wilde's play we can also see plenty of them, forming his individual style.
For example Wilde's repetitions help us to be closer to the hero, to understand his feelings. They also can be considered as a powerful mean of emphasis and coloring of individual author's style as they add rhythm and balance to the text.
Among other syntactical expressive means used by Oscar Wilde we can see inversion, but Oscar Wilde doesn't pay much attention to it.
Besides it we can see parallel constructions that could be called a perfect mean of creating the clean-cut syntax of O. Wilde plays. They deal with logical, rhythmic, emotive and expressive aspects of the utterance and create rhythmical shape of the sentence, making it more emotional, vivid and even musical.
One of the most typical syntactical stylistic device for Wilde's plays is ellipsis which gives the picture of real life, real people, their feelings and emotions in O. Wilde's plays. It adds a certain charm to the conversation.
In O. Wilde's plays we can also find lexico-syntactical stylistic devices, for example chiasmus. Like parallel construction, chiasmus contributes to the rhythmical quality of the utterance in O. Wilde's texts.
We came to the conclusion that for Oscar Wilde language was the most important way for expression of his thoughts and feelings. According to the examples mentioned in our scientific paper, we can see that Wilde's language is very expressive and vivid, and at the same time it is plain and understandable to any reader and this language like a brush paints really ingenious, vivid, individual style of author.
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