Literary Analysis Of Oscar Wilde's Impressions Of America

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In the 1800’s, America was the subject of many romantic visions and musings. The British and East Coasters alike saw everything west of Appalachia as a wild wonderland: home to cowboys, adventure, and opportunity. Oscar Wilde, a renowned British author and satirist, voyaged across America to test the truth of these claims. Afterwards, he published his findings and opinions in a piece known as Impressions of America. In the piece, he makes it clear that America did not live up to his expectations, and would disappoint his readers as well. Through this satirical writing, Wilde uses comparison of beauty and industrialism and juxtaposition between compliments and criticism to paint American social values as backwards and unappealing in order to dispel the glamour of a romantic American culture.…show more content…
He praises some aspects, but doesn’t like others. Looking more deeply, however, it’s easy to see how this sentence is more of a backhanded compliment than anything. Wilde doesn’t value comfort or efficiency in the slightest, and neither do his readers. So when it appears he is lauding Americans for some aspect of their culture, the emphasis is on the criticism and he and his audience are looking down upon the Americans. Since Wilde and his audience share the same values, he is trying to show he has the same disappointment as the reader would when reading the piece. The air of superiority Wilde emits is also something he would wish to share with his audience, given that they no longer see America is a land of adventure, but as a land of reality and
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