Skip to Main Content

Author Study: Oscar Wilde Curated by Emily Liu '23: Simile

Simile in A Woman of No Importance

“KELVIL. Now, I have never regarded woman as a toy. Woman is the intellectual helpmeet of man in public as in private life. Without her we should forget the true ideals.”

    Oscar Wilde tried to use the different point of view including men from two generations to portray the development of modern early feminism. The simile portrays “Woman” as “toy”, shows the fact how men at that time used to treat women as their belongings, which further implied the social status of women during that time.

Simile in The Nightingale and The Rose

“His hair is dark as the hyacinth-blossom, and his lips are red as the rose of his desire; but passion has made his face like pale ivory, and sorrow has set her seal upon his brow.”

    Oscar Wilde used simile for the readers to have a better understanding of the description he put here. Simile let the color along become more specific and easy to visualize. Through out all his fairy tales, Oscar Wilde used various of simile, which makes his story full of vivid descriptions.

Simile in The Picture of Dorian Gray

“Then I feel, Harry, hat I have given away my whole soul to someone who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity, an ornament for a summer’s day”

    In this simile, Dorian said that the person he gave his soul to treated is as a ornament. This shows that other people somehow doesn’t care about a person’s soul even if that’s the most precious thing a person could possibly give. This simile is here to imply the fact of love. Somehow, in Wilde’s eyes, love is nothing but a person’s own wishful thinking.

Simile in De Profundis

“Of course I should have got rid of you. I should have shaken you out of my life as a man shakes from his raiment a thing that has stung him.”

    The “thing that has stung” a man disgusted a man. In this case, Oscar Wilde claim that he should shake Douglas away as he too disgusted Wilde. Use a non-living object to refer to human dehumanized the characteristic of a person. Here, Wilde highlighted Douglas’s callous actions through out the paragraph.

Simile in The Canterville Ghost

“His eyes were as red as burning coals; long grey hair fell over his shoulders in mattered coils; his garments, which were of antique cut, were soiled and ragged, sand form his wrists and ankles hung heavy manacles and rusty gyves. ”

    When the ghost first appears, Oscar Wilde used many details to describe how the ghost look like. The ghost was all shabby and eerie, with cloths that fails apart. “Coals” can be associated with fire, and fire usually implies violence as long as cruelness. This simile is a classical approach towards gothic elements, where the character’s appearance itself is terrifying as the character got introduced.