Staged in 1893, when Wilde had already achieved fame, wealth and notoriety, A Woman of No Importance was another attempt to fuse comedy of manners with high melodrama. Gerald Arbuthnot is a young man on the make, with an American heiress and the post of secretary to the brilliant but dissolute Lord Illingworth within his reach. When he asks his mother to celebrate with them, it turns out that Illingworth is Gerald's father, who seduced and abandoned his mother twenty years earlier. Loyalty weighs heavier than ambition, and Gerald declines the association with Illingworth. This edition, which also analyses Wilde's various drafts and revisions of the play, argues that the playwright here continued to explore the rivalry between an older man and woman for the affection of a beautiful young man.
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