Ouida: Afternoon

(145 words)
  • Talia Schaffer (Queens College, CUNY )

“Afternoon” (1883), a play by Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramée), is a proto-feminist intervention in aestheticism. A connoisseur, Earl L'Estrange, marries a lovely ignorant peasant girl, Claire Glyon, but rapidly becomes disillusioned. Claire apparently drowns herself. Twenty years later, L'Estrange falls in love with a world-famous, brilliant, reclusive artist who is, in fact, Claire. Claire and her friend Laura condemn L'Estrange for his earlier objectification of his wife. They use wit to puncture the connoisseur's appraising gaze, evaluatory smirk, and facile judgements, insisting that women cannot be judged as one would judge rare china. At the end of the play, when Claire reveals her true identity, L'Estrange finally admits he …

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Schaffer, Talia. "Afternoon". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 January 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6817, accessed 26 September 2016.]