The Homosexual Legacy Of Oscar Wilde

1901 words - 8 pages

On October 16, 1854, the eccentric and fervently revered Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. Wilde’s work as a dramatist, novelist, and poet was marked by controversial wit, and was often the subject of moral outrage in Europe. Much of his writing reflected his own life and his protest against societal norms happening during the nineteenth century. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was greatly attacked for having themes of homoeroticism, and was part of the history that actualized his notoriety. However, the questions posed by his work and his life, are still relevant now as they were a hundred years ago (Ellmann, xvii).
Wilde’s interests were greatly influenced by the work of his parents during his upbringing. His father, Sir William Wilde, worked as Ireland’s leading ear and eye surgeon, and published multiple books on archaeology and folklore (“Oscar Wilde,” Encyclopedia Britannica). Wilde’s mother, Jane Francesca Agnes, was a gifted poet who wrote mostly myth and folklore. Her work was often published under the pseudonym, Speranza (“Oscar Wilde,” Encyclopedia Britannica). With two strong literary and professional role models, Wilde went on to study at Trinity College in Dublin (1871-74), and Magdalen College in Oxford (1874-78). He received a degree with honors, and established himself as a brilliant scholar, a poet, and a wit after receiving the Newdigate Prize (1878) for his long poem, Ravenna (“Oscar Wilde,” Encyclopedia Britannica). It was also during this time that Wilde began exploring his feelings of homosexuality.
Wilde had several relationships with men that turned him into a target for blackmail. Unfortunately for Wilde, the Victorian Era was polluted with ideas of homosexuality being immoral and an act against God. Yet, he chose to live bravely and continue his relationships with younger men. This was exceedingly dangerous considering sodomy was against the law under the Criminal Law Amendment Act during this time (Fuller, 174). The Labouchère Amendment, also known as the “Blackmailer’s Charter,” made sexual relations between men punishable by two years in prison, with or without hard labor (McKenna 81). This amendment trapped Oscar Wilde in his own trial and imprisonment, and led to the fall of his reputation and his career.
In writing The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde used much inspiration from aspects of his own life. Dorian Gray was originally published in 1890 in Lippincott’s Magazine (Gifford). This original version was extremely revealing, and critics at the time responded harshly to the practically blatant themes of homoeroticism. In order to quell the rising suspicions that the character Lord Henry Wotton was merely a picture Wilde drew of himself, he made many edits to the original and added several chapters, including most of the subplot concerning Sibyl Vane and her brother, James (Gifford). By publishing this second edition in 1891, Wilde obfuscated the earnestness of the first...

Find Another Essay On The Homosexual Legacy of Oscar Wilde

Aestheticism in the Writing of Oscar Wilde

1447 words - 6 pages discovery the characters use to find and establish their places within the set “reality” (“The Victorian Age”). Wilde, and his aesthete contemporaries, challenged the mainstream didactic literature of their time with an, as Walter Pater put it, “art for [art's] sake” (276) attitude. Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is a whelming campaign against the Victorian tenor; through vivid scenery and cunning language, Wilde argues not only the

Oscar Wilde "The Birthday of Infanta"

1752 words - 7 pages opposite to Infanta - the Dwarf is black monster. He cares a lot about his outer view. Artistic means, which Oscar Wilde has uses in this story shows very precisely how inner world develops. However, in real people do not want to know their problems, but so they escape a lot of emotions. The author plays with two opposite worlds. And so there are two main groups of key words that are opposite to each other: 1) Beauty: laugh, invisible wall of clear

Biography of Oscar Wilde

1181 words - 5 pages club,the Albemarle, upon which he had written, 'To Oscar Wilde posing as a somdomite' (sic).Wilde sued him for libel but lost the case and was charged with homosexual offenses. Thejury failed to reach a decision but at a second trial he was found guilty and sentenced totwo years in Reading Gaol, a labor prison. There Wilde was declared bankrupt, and hishouse and possessions were sold to pay off his debts. An Ideal Husband and TheImportance of Being

The Influences of Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray

1591 words - 6 pages The Influences of Oscar WildeThroughout his life Oscar Wilde had many strong influences exerted upon him. During his early childhood his mother influenced him and into college some of his professors and certain philosophers left a substantial impression upon him. Into adulthood these influences leaked out in his writing. These influences gave him ample ideas for writing The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde's study of the Hellenistic ideals of

Play: The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

1219 words - 5 pages Marriage in The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde. Oscar describes his play as A Trivia comedy for serious people. The protagonists in the play maintains being fictitious in order to escape burdensome social obligations. The play is lighthearted with flippant comments and offhand jokes, however the play contains serious undertones and social commentary about marriage and the society. Oscar

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

1454 words - 6 pages In The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde revealed that animalistic traits can tint a character’s intellectual attributes. All of the characters possess an overwhelming desire which seems to diminish their morality. Wilde uses Jack Worthing’s animalistic behaviors to reveal that his animal self is damaging his intellectual self. The play is presented to show that the characters retain an exaggerated pleasure with food, which shows their

Oscar Wilde V/S "The Importance of Being Earnest"

1265 words - 5 pages IWhen analyzing Oscar Wilde’s work within the context of Victorian times, I can assure that this author was the most important transgressor of his time. Oscar Wilde defied normal standards and created works of art that criticized his reality, but with a touch of glamour and style that cautioned the audiences in those and nowadays. The importance of being Earnest produces these glamorous scenes full of wit and style, reproducing Victorian

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

560 words - 2 pages Say, on a particular day, a good friend asks of one to perform an unmentionable immoral action on his or her behalf; should one accept? An internal conflict will arise from the risk of sacrificing a relationship for one's moral's and values. Such an internal conflict is depicted in The Picture of Dorian Gary, a novel by Oscar Wilde, where the protagonist is of two minds between his friends, Basil and Lord Henry, good and evil, and pursuit of

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

1498 words - 6 pages to look to the inside - into the soul. This is the place where the real beauty and ugliness are hidden.The notion of inner and outer beauty is perfectly presented in the novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. The story described in this book shows how the external attractiveness influences people's behavior and corrupts the inner beauty. The plot situated in the XIX England perfectly describes the higher class of this period. Shallow

"The Important of Being Ernest" by Oscar Wilde.

998 words - 4 pages The Important of Being Earnest is a comedy play by Oscar Wilde. This play is his final work before he passes away at 1900. It is set in the Victorian Age. The play is about the using of dual personalities and the importance of trivial things. The main characters are Jack and Algernon, who started the whole story. Apart from that, other significant characters are Gwendolen and Cecily, who bond to Jack and Algernon, and there are Lady Bracknell

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

1523 words - 6 pages show the real face much better than the mirror can reflect it.1. I consider Oscar Wilde's work The Picture of Dorian Gray to be a great example of how powerful, effective and influential the art can be. In this book it is the painter Basil Hallward, who made a Dorian's portrait so perfect like the reflection of him in the mirror. Later in the book the portrait changed and Dorian found out that it showed something that could never be seen in the

Similar Essays

The Misunderstood Legacy Of Oscar Wilde

2106 words - 8 pages The Misunderstood Legacy of Oscar Wilde Surrounded by scandal caused by his own deception, Oscar Wilde left this world with a legacy of often misunderstood wit, a brilliant collection of writing, and sordid tales of an extramarital homosexual affair. The playwright progressed from a fashionable, flippant fop immersed in London society to a man broken by the public discovery of his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. In his prime

The Life Of Oscar Wilde Essay

1519 words - 6 pages The Life of Oscar Wilde The year is 1884 and many things have taken place in the life of our literary giant, Oscar Wilde has been married years and his touring of the United States and other countries have shown his of success in his writing all over the literary world. Some of his most recent writtings are "The Picture of Dorian Gray"(1891), "A Woman of No Importance"(1894) and his most resent essay known as "The Decay of Lying" is Oscar’s

The Life And Writings Of Oscar Wilde

1499 words - 6 pages Oscar Wilde is famous for many aspects of his life, including his childhood and adolescence, his marriage and dedication as a father, his homosexual encounters and imprisonment and for his fantastic skill to bewilder his audience. Wilde was a flamboyant nineteenth century writer known for his ability to create brilliant plays, imaginative and moral stories, and overall his incredible talent as a master in all forms of literature. Oscar Wilde

Homosexuality In The Works Of Oscar Wilde

3166 words - 13 pages society and setting a moral standard. The Victorian era was a time of relative peace and economic stability (Marshall 783). Victorians did not want anything "unclean" or "unacceptable" to interfere with their idea of perfection. Therefore, this quote, taken from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, brimming with homosexual undertones, was considered inappropriate. Due to the time period's standards, Oscar Wilde was forced to hide behind a thin