The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The purpose and description of the setting is very important to the context and overall tone Oscar Wilde attempts to set for his characters. Wilde describes the scene, “Garden at the manor house. A flight of grey stone steps leads up to the house. The garden, an old fashioned one, full of roses. Time of year, July.” By providing key information about the setting, Wilde provides the audience with subtle information about the characters. A manor suggests the characters are wealthy and often refer to the historical landscape of England or North America in the 1800’s. The refined language and manners of the characters support the expectations being forced on Cecily and explains her sometimes bratty attitude.

If I were the director, responsible for setting the stage of this play, I would utilize a garden scene backdrop with a huge tree center piece. A small gazebo wrapped in vine, accented with yellow summer roses and straw baskets full of multi-colored daisies. The spotlight on a metal/glass patio table and two chairs, with books stacked three high. Characters would be dressed in 1800’s colonial dress.

The stage direction for this drama does allow for creative leeway. Wilde provides straightforward direction in regards to the setting and character movements but does not direct the emotion or expressions of the words being spoken.

Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw

The purpose of the setting in Pygmalion is to detail the differences and comparison between the poor and middle-class characters. The attitudes displayed towards the flower girl in the beginning of the play, and her fear of offending a gentleman sets the tone throughout the rest of the drama.

If I were responsible for setting the stage of Pygmalion, the sound of rain and light thunder would play over the sound system. The stage would mimic the entrance of a historic catholic church, four foam pillars would be aligned across the stage, with a wooden peddlers (produce) cart set near the stage entrance. Cast members would be dressed in worn rags (to symbolize the poor), while upscale characters would be dress in fine dresses and suits.

The stage direction of Pygmalion does not allow much creative leeway. The author provides character entrances, emotions, and actions, but does leave some leeway in regards to costumes. Overall, Shaw leaves a clear picture of how the play is to be staged.

Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest. ENGL200: Composition and Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011: 340-83. Web. 12 August 2011.