Study Guide

Salomé Tough-o-Meter

By Oscar Wilde


(8) Snow Line

Salomé may be a short work, but it'd be a lot longer if you included all the footnotes necessary to make sense of it all.

An understanding of the New Testament is essential to understanding the play: if you don't know the original story of John the Baptist, Herod, Salomé, and the coming of the Messiah, you can't tell how Wilde has modified it…and that's what makes this play awesome.

To make things even more complicated, Wilde borrows from the Old Testament, classical mythology and the works of his French contemporaries. Even then, making sense of Salomé's long lists of insults and compliments—or simply figuring out why they're there in the first place—is still tough. Lucky for you, we're here to help.