In addition to being a poet, playwright, novelist and incredibly snazzy dresser, Wilde wrote philosophical dialogues on the nature of art, in which he argued against the trend toward Realism in the theater. In "The Decay of Lying" (1889), Wilde described how, in premodern times, the goal of art was not to mirror life as it actually is, but to create "complex beauty" that contained the "monstrous and marvelous."
[Art] enlisted Life in her service, and using some of life's external forms, she created an entirely new race of beings, whose sorrows were more terrible than any sorrow man has even felt, whose joys were keener than lover's joys, who had the rage of the Titans and the calm of the gods, who had monstrous and marvelous sins, monstrous and marvelous virtues. To them she gave a language different from that of actual use, a language full of resonant music and sweet rhythm... jeweled with wonderful words, and enriched with lofty diction... Old myth and legend and dream took shape and substance. History was entirely re-written, and there was hardly one of the dramatists who did not recognize that the object of Art is not simple truth but complex beauty.
Far from expecting art to provide the audience with "good role models," Wilde understood that one of the functions of art is to present and express the extra-ordinary. Wilde's aesthetic philosophy inspired my own attempt to find complex truths and complex beauty in plays and performances that depict the monstrous and marvelous.