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Author Oscar Wilde
Type of work Drama
Language French; translated into English by Lord Alfred Douglas
Time and place written Paris, 1891
Date of first publication French: 1893; first production at the Théatre de l'Oeuvre, Paris, February 11, 1896. English: 1894; first production at the Bijou Theater: New Sage Club, London, May 10, 1905
Publisher Cox and Wyman, Ltd.
Tense The play occurs in the time of the present
Setting (time) The play approximately runs the course of one evening
Setting (place) The terrace of Herod's palace
Major conflict Herod, Tetrarch of Judaea, has imprisoned the prophet Jokanaan and barred all from seeing him. Seduced by the prophet's voice, the princess Salomé has the prophet drawn from his prison. After he rebuffs her advances, Salomé makes use of her stepfather's lust for her to exact her desire, dancing the dance of the seven veils in exchange for the prophet's head on a silver charger.
Rising action After her dance, Salomé requests the prophet's head. Herod begs her to release him from his word, offering her the greatest treasures of the kingdom. She refuses, and the executioner descends into Jokanaan's prison.
Climax The executioner presents Jokanaan's head.
Falling Action Salomé professes her love for the prophet's head, demanding that it look at her. The disgusted Tetrarch calls for the torches to be put out and withdraws into darkness. Salomé kisses Jokanaan. The moon captures her in its light, and Herod orders her execution. The Soldiers crush Salomé under their shields.
Themes The Look and the Spectacle of the Body; Vanitas; the Orient;
Motifs The Princess, the prophet, and the moon; the eye and the veil; the Jews and the Nazarenes
Symbols The moon; omens
Foreshadowing Foreshadowing occurs throughout the play: the Syrian prefigures Salomé's dance; Jokanaan prophecies Salomé death; various omens herald Herod's ruin.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Salomé!