Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
Author: Oscar Wilde
Genre: Short Story Collection
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories is a collection of stories written by Oscar Wilde, and published in 1891. Oscar Wilde, the inimitable Irish playwright and wordsmith, is renowned for his sharp wit and satirical genius. In this collection of short stories, Wilde showcases his storytelling prowess, blending humor, irony, and the macabre.
1. Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories Synopsis
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories features four stories, including Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, The Canterville Ghost, The Sphinx Without a Secret, and “The Model Millionaire.” A new addition, “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.,” was included in the collection in subsequent editions.
2. Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories Summary
2.1. Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime: A Fortuitous Folly
In “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime,” we are introduced to the eponymous Lord Arthur, a well-meaning but somewhat gullible aristocrat. Lord Arthur’s impending marriage to the charming Lady Windermere is threatened when a palm reader predicts that he is destined to commit a murder. Determined to clear his conscience before marriage, Lord Arthur embarks on a comical journey to fulfill this ill-fated prophecy.
Wilde’s active voice and sharp humor are on full display as we follow Lord Arthur’s increasingly absurd attempts at murder. From explosive experiments to misplaced poison, each scheme ends in uproarious failure. Through this farcical narrative, Wilde satirizes the superstitions and societal expectations of the upper classes in Victorian England.
“Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” is a brilliant exploration of the absurdity of fate, the consequences of blind faith, and the lengths one might go to avoid a perceived moral failing. It stands as a prime example of Wilde’s ability to blend humor with social commentary, leaving readers both amused and contemplative.
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2.2. The Canterville Ghost: A Haunting Hilarity
In “The Canterville Ghost,” Wilde takes a departure from traditional ghost stories, infusing the supernatural with his signature wit and humor. The Otis family, American expatriates, move into Canterville Chase, a haunted English mansion. The titular ghost, Sir Simon, attempts to terrify the Otis family with his spectral antics, but the pragmatic Americans respond with practicality and good-humored mockery.
Wilde’s active voice and keen observations of cultural clashes between the Old World and the New World create a delightful juxtaposition. As Sir Simon’s ghostly tricks are met with everyday American inventions like lubricating oil and stain removers, the story becomes a comical exploration of cultural differences and the power of rationality over superstition.
“The Canterville Ghost” is a testament to Wilde’s ability to subvert expectations and inject humor into even the most eerie of settings. Through this tale, he challenges the conventions of the gothic ghost story while highlighting the irreverent spirit of American pragmatism.
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2.3. The Sphinx Without a Secret: A Mysterious Enigma
“The Sphinx Without a Secret” introduces us to Lord Murchison, a man who becomes infatuated with a beautiful woman named Mrs. Helena Ottley. Convinced that she harbors a dark secret, Lord Murchison embarks on a quest to uncover the truth about her past. As he delves deeper into her history, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the enigma of Mrs. Ottley.
Wilde’s active voice and elegant prose draw us into the intrigue of Lord Murchison’s investigation. The story is a reflection on the nature of mystery and the allure of the unknown. As Lord Murchison unravels the truth about Mrs. Ottley, he is confronted with the idea that some secrets are best left undiscovered.
“The Sphinx Without a Secret” invites readers to ponder the fascination with mystery and the consequences of prying into the private lives of others. Wilde’s storytelling finesse is on full display in this tantalizing tale of curiosity and its consequences.
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2.4. The Model Millionaire: A Tale of Generosity
“The Model Millionaire” takes a departure from the ironic and satirical tone of the previous stories, offering a heartwarming and moral tale. It centers on Hughie Erskine, a young man in love with the beautiful Laura Merton. Hughie is deemed unsuitable by Laura’s father due to his lack of wealth. However, when Hughie assists a beggar who turns out to be a millionaire in disguise, his life takes an unexpected turn.
Wilde’s active voice and vivid descriptions immerse us in Hughie’s transformation from a struggling artist to a model of generosity. The story explores themes of kindness, selflessness, and the true value of wealth. Through Hughie’s act of charity, Wilde conveys the idea that true riches come from the generosity of the heart.
“The Model Millionaire” serves as a reminder of the importance of compassion and the notion that wealth is not solely measured in material possessions. Wilde’s ability to infuse depth and moral lessons into his storytelling shines in this heartwarming tale.
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2.5. The Portrait of Mr. W. H.: A Literary Enigma
“The Portrait of Mr. W. H.” takes readers into the world of literary speculation and intrigue. The story revolves around the theory that Shakespeare’s sonnets were dedicated to a mysterious Mr. W. H. Wilde’s active voice and intellectual discourse create a narrative that is both a detective story and a philosophical exploration.
Through this tale, Wilde delves into the complex relationship between art and reality, the nature of genius, and the lengths to which individuals will go to uncover hidden truths. “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.” invites readers to contemplate the power of literature and the enduring mysteries that continue to captivate the literary world.
3. Conclusion: Oscar Wilde’s Tapestry of Tales
In Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories, Oscar Wilde weaves a tapestry of tales that range from the absurd to the heartwarming, from the satirical to the mysterious. Through his active voice and mastery of storytelling, Wilde invites readers into a world where wit, humor, and profound insights coexist. Each story is a testament to Wilde’s literary genius and his ability to captivate and entertain readers while offering glimpses into the complexities of the human experience.
As we explore these stories, we are reminded of Wilde’s enduring legacy as a master of the short story, a satirist of society, and a philosopher of the human condition. Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories remains a delightful collection that continues to enchant and provoke thought, proving that Oscar Wilde’s literary brilliance transcends time and place.