Blog Post 7: Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright who became very popular in London during the 1890s. He was a prominent figure in the aesthetic movement, which advocated for art’s value coming from its inherent beauty alone. His views on art as well as his style of dress were controversial and met with criticism by the press. The most controversial aspect of Wilde was his engagement in consensual homosexual acts, which was unearthed during Wilde’s prosecution of the Marquess of Queensbury for criminal libel. Wilde was put to trial and subsequently sentenced to hard labor for two years. The controversial perception of Wilde was largely a result of his actions not being widely accepted in the society of his time. His views on art were beyond the boundaries of what the mainstream press thought acceptable, so he was slandered by the media as a result. Wilde’s engagement in homosexual acts was not accepted by the predominant conservative culture of western Europe, resulting in harsh criminal penalties levied upon him. In today’s day, Oscar Wilde is seen as a trailblazer who published influential writings and unfortunately succumbed to the flawed morals of an outdated criminal justice system.

I consider Wilde to be a “wild” writer, especially in his poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” which he wrote after enduring hard labor in prison. He describes the brutality he experienced and witnessed through imagery, such as “the sickening thirst That sands one’s throat” and the “blood and wine” that were found near “The poor dead woman.” He also details the labor that they needed to do, including tearing “the tarry rope to shreds With blunt and bleeding nails” whilst “terror was lying still” in “the heart of every man.” Wilde’s poem is wild due to its gruesome and horrifying depictions of the reality of prison conditions, and the bold stance he takes in speaking out against such conditions.

-Avinash K

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One Response to Blog Post 7: Oscar Wilde

  1. lmr3855

    I really how you mentioned that Oscar Wilde had to surrender to a flawed, outdated criminal justice system. Perosnally, I don’t think there should have been a whole trial because he engaged in homosexual acts. I like how he was himself and didn’t try to hide what he really liked despite getting criticism from the public. I thought that maybe since he drew a lot of attention to himself with his personal life, this could’ve been the reason why he gained popularity aside from the fact his work was good. I hadn’t read the poem you talk about but it sounds really interesting and, like you mentioned, by using the specific words to describe the scenario, I think he is able to successfully portray the gruesome image of the dead woman and the blood around her.

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