Pat Barker's Regeneration Essay

1746 words - 7 pages

In Pat Barker's novel Regeneration, there is little doubt that the cult of Oscar Wilde had taken hold already in the first decades of the twentieth century. In Oscar Wilde's Last Stand, Philip Hoarer informs us that by associating with Robert Ross, Wilfred Owen "was allying himself with the cult of Oscar Wilde: hero, mentor and martyr to an entire culture" (Hoarer 15). In some manner, the unraveling of this statement is what makes the references to Wilde so important in Barker's novel. Barker makes three references to Oscar Wilde on pages 54, 124, and 143. Each of the references to Wilde is in the context of friendships involving homosexual males. In Barker's Regeneration, Oscar Wilde is referenced to emphasize the theme that homosexuals are completely capable having friendships with other males and not just romantic relationships.

The interesting life of Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde began on October 16, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. By the end of his college education, Wilde had become one of the most famous aesthetes; it was this recognition which drew attention to his affected paradoxes and his witty sayings. This fame led to his 1882 lecture tour of America. In 1885 Wilde began work as a book reviewer for the Pall Mall Gazette and a critic for the Dramatic Reviewer. Two years later, he was appointed as the editor of the Lady's World Magazine. The year 1888 marked his first major published work The Happy Prince and Other Stories, which was a charming collection of children's stories. Three years later Wilde made a name for him self by publishing four books in 1891: A House of Pomegranates, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, Intentions, and The Picture of Dorian Gray -- the latter earning him his greatest fame to date" ("Biography"). In the next four years Wilde's fame grew larger with his wildly popular plays: Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband, and The Importance of Being Earnest (both in 1895). The academic and literary career of Oscar Wilde was soon there after distracted by his private sexual life.

The private sexual life of Oscar Wilde was one that has left us with unmistakably clear truths and also clouded uncertainties. What is historically known to be true about Oscar Wilde's life is that in 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, and he fathered two sons, Cyril (1885) and Vyvyan (1886). Another known truth is that "as early as 1886, Wilde had been actively involved in homosexual affairs with Lord Alfred Douglas" ("Biography"). When Douglas's father the Marquess of Queensberry found out about the relationship, he tried to end it peacefully. Instead, "Douglas regrettably persuaded Wilde to file a criminal libel case against the Marquess" ("Biography"). Wilde's charge was soon dismissed by the British courts and followed by a charge against Wilde by the Marquess. After the trial "the court found Wilde guilty of homosexual misconduct -- then a serious punishable crime -- and sentenced him to two years hard labor at Reading Gaol"...

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