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Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · Salomé

author · Oscar Wilde

type of work · Drama

genre · Tragedy

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.

tone · Tragic

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

protagonists · Salomé

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.