Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. LeeAnne Richardson - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Margaret Mills Harper

Third Advisor

Dr. Tanya Caldwell


The plays of Oscar Wilde hold more than just sharp wit and likable characters; they also contain examinations of aspects of the playwright's own personality and explorations of possible life choices. Through the use of Performance Studies theory, this thesis seeks to shed light on how Wilde saw himself versus how he presented himself at different points in his life. The texts analyzed within are Wilde's 1891 dramatic religious retelling, Salomé, and his 1894 domestic comedy, The Importance of Being Ernest. Within each are clues to the interior desires of their author: Salomé offers an investigation of a strong female personality in a repressive male society, while The Importance of Being Earnest expands on the feminine taking control over destiny.