Blog Post #7: Is Wilde “Wild”?

Oscar Wilde, born October 16, 1854, was originally from Dublin, Ireland, but 46 years later in 1900 he passed away in Paris, France. Wilde appeared to be a spokesman for the late 19th-century aesthetic movement and the Victorian era in England. He was popularly known for his wit, flamboyance, trials, and jail sentence for homosexual acts. He was raised by two very impressive individuals. His father was Ireland’s leading ear and eye surgeon while his mother was a revolutionary poet. Wilde eventually married and had 2 children named Cyril and Vyvyan. Wilde published his first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which received brutal criticism as critiques believed Wilde was suggesting embracing sin and immorality, but now, his novels are studied often and considered a great classic. His novel was also considered a homoerotic text as it hinted to events happening in his own life. Wilde, after being married for many years, had an affair with another man ultimately ending his marriage. He later was involved in a case in which he was found guilty for charges of sodomy and gross indecency ultimately ending him up in jail. 

While Wilde was considered “wild” because of his controversial past regarding the affair with a man, many of his writings were considered “wild” for that time period as well. His last poem ever published, also one of his most successful, is The Ballad of Reading Gaol as it depicts his experience of cruelty prisons inflict on the inmates. Some lyrics include:

I walked, with other souls in pain,
  Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
  A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
  “That fellow’s got to swing.

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
  Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
  Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
  My pain I could not feel.

Here, Wilde is writing about the pain he felt in prison. This too was considered wild as no writer had ever revealed the cruelty of prison itself. The specific lyrics, “And, though I was a soul in pain, My pain I could not feel” hints at the fact that the crimes he committed in the outside were nothing compared to the pain he felt in the prison. 

  • Audrey Wines

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One Response to Blog Post #7: Is Wilde “Wild”?

  1. sdw2623

    I like the poem you chose to express Wilde’s feelings in prison. Maybe you can further explain why his writing was considered wild not just due to him being gay. Though the summary of Wild’s life is well written.

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