Homosexuality In The Works Of Oscar Wilde
Homosexuality in Oscar Wilde's Work
"I turned half way around and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself" (7). During the Victorian era, this was a dangerous quote. The Victorian era was about progress. It was an attempt aimed at cleaning up the 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 layer of inference and parallel. Wilde was obsessed with the perfect image. Although he dressed more flamboyantly than the contemporary dress, it was to create an image of himself. Wilde was terrified of revealing his homosexuality because he knew that he would be alienated and ostracized from the society. Through his works, Oscar Wilde implicitly reflected his homosexual lifestyle because he feared the repercussions from the conservative Victorian era in which he lived.
Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 and led a normal childhood. After high school, Wilde attended Oxford College and received a B.A. in 1878. During this time, he wrote Vera and The Importance of Being Earnest. In addition, "for two years Wilde had dressed in outlandish outfits, courted famous people and built his public image" (Stayley 317). Doing so earned Wilde a job with Richard D' Oyly, a producer. His task was to advertise opera in America. While in America, Wilde not only found a producer for Vera, but also wrote The Duchess of Padua for the American actress, Mary Anderson (Stayley 317).
Upon his return to England in 1883, Wilde began lecturing on his experiences in America. This is how he came to meet Constance Lloyd, whom he later married on May 29, 1884. The couple had two children together. However, the marriage began to have problems after Wilde met Canadian, Robert Ross, which "began his involvement in the disordered, destructive homosexual lifestyle so luridly suggested in The Picture of Dorian Gray and catalogued in his sensational trials" (Stayley 318). Robert Ross forced Wilde to confront the homosexual tendencies that he had been trying desperately to suppress. A whole new world opened for Wilde, and his only resource in which to channel this new energy was through his literary works.
In 1888, Oscar Wilde published a set of fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales and "The Young King." These stories, "revealed another approach to moral situations and human relationships" (Stayley 319). The fairy tales were perhaps the first time Wilde introduced...
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Homosexual Elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
1608 Words7 Pages
Homosexual Elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray
In spite of the novel's heterosexual text, many critics agree that it has various homosexual elements in its characters, in the dialogues, and even in the portrait itself. One of the critics, Richard Dellamora, mentions this feature of the text, and comments that "By definition this context is heterosexual. Wotton is married and pursues actresses. Basil himself is a graduate of Oxford, a well-established artist, and respectable to a fault" (28). However, he also remarks the intensity of male friendships, and referring to Basil, he continues "Later, he repeatedly enjoins Dorian to conformity. Both older men live in a network of male friendships that ramify through the novel "…show more content…
sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face
to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating
that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature,
my whole soul, my very art itself... Something seemed to tell me
that I was on the verge of a terrible crisis in my life... I take no
credit to myself for trying to escape... We were quite close,
almost touching. Our eyes met again. It was reckless of me, but
I asked Lady Brandon to introduce me to him. Perhaps it was
not so reckless, after all. It was simply inevitable. We would have
spoken to each other without any introduction. I am sure of that,
Dorian told me so afterwards. He, too, felt that we were destined
to know each other. (11-12)
Towards the middle of the novel, Basil confesses his worship of Dorian to the young model himself :
...Dorian, from the moment I met you, your personality had the
most extraordinary influence over me. I was dominated, soul,
brain, and power by you. You became to me the