125 Oscar Wilde Quotes (About Art, Goodness, Life, Love…)

Oscar Wilde was a well-known playwright and poet during the early 1890s. He is best recognized for his epigrams, plays, and his novels The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), as well as The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).

Known for his flamboyant outfits, sharp wit, and remarkable conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his era.

Many of his plays were satirical comedies, and some of his writings mocked the Victorian aristocracy. His comedy made fun of London’s social hierarchy and the hypocrisy of the Upper Crust (the most affluent members of the community).

No matter what critics say about his writings, his works are still undeniably meaningful, and they’re still as popular as ever today amongst students and academics alike.

Here are 125 Oscar Wilde quotes that will make you appreciate art, life, and love even more.

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Art

1. “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”

2. “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” 

Life imitates art far more than art imitates life - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #art #life #imitates

3. “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.”

4. “Bad people are, from the point of view of art, fascinating studies. They represent color, variety, and strangeness. Good people exasperate one’s reason; bad people stir one’s imagination.”

5. “Art never harms itself by keeping aloof from the social problems of the day: rather, by so doing, it more completely realizes for us that which we desire.”

6. “A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.”

7. “Nothing, indeed, is more dangerous to the young artist than any conception of ideal beauty: he is constantly led by it either into weak prettiness or lifeless abstraction: whereas to touch the ideal at all, you must not strip it of vitality.”

8. “The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.”

9. “No better way is there to learn to love Nature than to understand Art. It dignifies every flower of the field. And, the boy who sees the thing of beauty which a bird on the wing becomes when transferred to wood or canvas will probably not throw the customary stone.”

10. “There should be a law that no ordinary newspaper should be allowed to write about art. The harm they do by their foolish and random writing it would be impossible to overestimate – not to the artist, but to the public, blinding them to all but harming the artist not at all.”

11. “Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” 

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #art #portrait #artist

12. “Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force.”

13. “A critic should be taught to criticize a work of art without making any reference to the personality of the author.”

14. “The Lady’s World should be made the recognized organ for the expression of women’s opinions on all subjects of literature, art and modern life, and yet it should be a magazine that men could read with pleasure.”

15. “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.”

16. “It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.”

17. “All art is quite useless.”

18. “What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive the old art of Lying.”

19. “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

20. “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.”

21. “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”

22. “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.” 

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #art #poetry #genuine #feeling

23. “The function of the artist is to invent, not to chronicle.”

24. “It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection.”

25. “A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”

26. “The mark of all good art is not that the thing done is done exactly or finely, for machinery may do as much, but that it is worked out with the head and the workman’s heart.”

27. “Technique is really personality. That is the reason why the artist cannot teach it, why the pupil cannot learn it, and why the aesthetic critic can understand it.”

28. “If a work of art is rich and vital and complete, those who have artistic instincts will see its beauty and those to whom ethics appeal more strongly than aesthetics will see its moral lesson. It will fill the cowardly with terror, and the unclean will see in it their own shame.”

29. “In designing the scenery and costumes for any of Shakespeare’s plays, the first thing the artist has to settle is the best date for the drama. This should be determined by the general spirit of the play more than by any actual historical references which may occur in it.”

30. “Art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic.” 

Art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #art #popular #artistic

31. “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.”

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Goodness

1. “In modern life, nothing produces such an effect as a good platitude. It makes the whole world kin.”

2. “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

3. “If one plays good music, people don’t listen and if one plays bad music people don’t talk.”

4. “I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

5. “Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.”

6. “The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” 

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #goodness #advice #pass

7. “Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there.”

8. “It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.”

9. “It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But… it is better to be good than to be ugly.”

10. “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

11. “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”

12. “Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion.”

13. “Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.” 

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #goodness #life #fair

14. “When good Americans die they go to Paris.”

15. “Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.”

16. “If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.”

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Life

1. “There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathize with the color, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life’s sores the better.”

2. “I put all my genius into my life I put only my talent into my works.” 

I put all my genius into my life I put only my talent into my works - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #life #genius #talent #works

3. “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.”

4. “One’s real life is so often the life that one does not lead.”

5. “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.”

6. “The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life.”

7. “The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.”

8. “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

9. “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

10. “I think it is perfectly natural for any artist to admire intensely and love a young man. It is an incident in the life of almost every artist.”

11. “If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.” 

If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #life #wait

12. “In married life, three is company and two none.”

13. “Perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to do is to choose a notable and joyous dress for men. There would be more joy in life if we were to accustom ourselves to use all the beautiful colors we can in fashioning our own clothes.”

14. “Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. That is the only proper basis for family life.”

Oscar Wilde Quotes About Love

1. “Women are made to be loved, not understood.”

2. “Between men and women, there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

3. “When a man has once loved a woman, he will do anything for her except continue to love her.”

4. “Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.” 

Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #love #first #last

5. “There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.”

6. “Women love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our gigantic intellects.”

7. “A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her.”

8. “One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.”

9. “Who, being loved, is poor?”

10. “I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women, when they love, give everything.”

11. “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

12. “Those whom the gods love grow young.”

13. “Hatred is blind, as well as love.”

Oscar Wilde, More Quotes And Sayings

1. “One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.”

2. “Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.”

3. “It is only by not paying one’s bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.”

4. “If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized.”

5. “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” 

Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #forgive #enemies

6. “How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.”

7. “Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”

8. “If there was less sympathy in the world, there would be less trouble in the world.”

9. “No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.”

10. “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

11. “I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.”

12. “Death and vulgarity are the only two facts in the nineteenth century that one cannot explain away.”

13. “Biography lends to death a new terror.”

14. “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”

15. “I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy.”

16. “The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.”

17. “Now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm.”

18. “As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.”

19. “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”

20. “Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.” 

Ambition is the last refuge of the failure - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #ambition #failure

21. “A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.”

22. “All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.”

23. “Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes.”

24. “He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.”

25. “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

26. “Success is a science if you have the conditions, you get the result.”

27. “It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.”

28. “Some cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go.”

29. “Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.” 

Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #experience

30. “The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation.”

31. “Men marry because they are tired, women because they are curious both are disappointed.”

32. “There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else.”

33. “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”

34. “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

35. “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”

36. “True friends stab you in the front.” 

True friends stab you in the front - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #friends

37. “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”

38. “I want my food dead. Not sick, not dying, dead.”

39. “Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength, and courage to yield to.”

40. “This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.”

41. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

42. “The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”

43. “How marriage ruins a man! It is as demoralizing as cigarettes, and far more expensive.”

44. “Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.”

45. “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” 

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future - Oscar Wilde. #quotes #saint #past #sinner #future

46. “An excellent man he has no enemies and none of his friends like him.”

47. “Society exists only as a mental concept in the real world there are only individuals.”

48. “A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

49. “The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.”

50. “There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It is a thing no married man knows anything about.”

51. “Children begin by loving their parents after a time they judge them rarely if ever, do they forgive them.”

If you’d like to know more about Oscar Wilde’s works and writings, we would suggest you read Oscar Wilde’s Wit and Wisdom: A Book of Quotations.

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