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Oscar Wilde´s point of view about love

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Es un trabajo realizado en el idioma ingles donde muestra que la vida y obras de Oscar Wilde son controversiales. Todos sus escritos(cuentos, novela, poemas, obras de teatro, etc) hablan sobre diversos temas, pero el tema del amor siempre esta involucrado

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    "To love oneself is the beginning of a

    life-long romance" (qtd. in Kronenberg 113).

    Oscar Wilde's point of view about love

    Oscar Wilde is an Irish writer well-known by people of all ages, as he was homosexual, his life was different from some authors of his epoch and however he lived during a moral and religious century, he always had a critical spirit and tried to challenge the society. His novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has been discussed by many important writers since the nineteen-century, his beautiful fairy tales are told not only to children but also to most of the people. His letters and poems are criticized by writers, and his plays are performed in important theaters all around the world by famous actors and actresses. The writings of Oscar Wilde involve different elements that are still present nowadays. For example, the behavior of the different social classes in society -especially the problems between the low and high class-, the common problems between couples, parents and friends. In each writing you will find the beautiful expression of love by showing that it is not only happiness, but also love is suffering, depression, melancholy and loneliness.

    Each writing of Oscar Wilde has something which the other can learn from, and invites the reader to think about what it is read and to meditate about his or her own life. Along this work it will be explained Wilde's life and writings, how in some of them his life is reflected, and that love is expressed as the most important element in Oscar Wilde's writings.

    Oscar Fingal OFlahertie Wills Wilde was born in Ireland on October 16, 1854. Since he was born, he became a controversial man because as his mother Speranza was yearning that her second child should be a daughter, she dressed Oscar like a girl, and exhibited him in the streets (Kronenberg 7). Hesketh Pearson says that: "... [i]t cannot be explained how much this influenced and affected his fantasies and frocks in Oscars later life" (qtd. in Kronenberg 8).

    Wilde was educated in the Portora Royal School (1864 to 1871) and in the Oxford College (1874-1878) where although he had a lot of troubles for their extravagancy he became a well-known man by the society. He was a person who always tried to be unique and different from the others. He refused the obligatory rules and the common daily life by trying to be original and extravagant in everything he made. "He always liked to call the attention exhibiting their lack of moral prejudices and their pleasure for certain original attitudes as the one of maintaining their rooms closed and with the electric light lit even in the middle of day" (Wilde, The Works of Oscar Wilde 6).

    However, he got married in London in 1884 with Constance Lloyd he used to have sexual relations with another men and women, and earlier he contracted syphilis from a female prostitute. The mercury treatments he took, discolored his teeth that is why he always covered his mouth with his hand when smiling, and you will not find photos of Wilde laughing (Young 1). At the age of 31he had two sons whose names were Cyril and Vyvyan to whom he used to tell his beautiful fairy tales and loved during all his life although he didn't see them during long periods of time.

    From 1887 to 1891, he edited a magazine that men could read, and wrote a lot of plays, poems and fairy tales which "praised for their charming fancies and quaint humor" (qtd. in Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest vii). In 1890 he wrote his only novel that caused many critics among the readers titled The Picture of Dorian Gray which he took the idea from a painter he met in an studio in London named Basil Ward and in gratitude he named the painter in his novel Basil Hallward.

    In 1891, he met Lord Alfred Douglas whom he called Bosie, a young and good looking Oxford undergraduate attracted by Wilde's sophistication and success (Wilde, The Importance of Being Ernest vii). In the film Oscar Wilde it is seen how deep was the love between Oscar Wilde and Bosie. Since the moment Oscar knew Bosie he was amazed and astonished by his youth, beauty and intelligence. From then on, Bosie was absolutely necessary for his life, the two were always together writing to each other, or about each other. Oscar described to her friends that Bosie was his own boy and that he "is quite like a narcissus, so white and gold.... He lies like a hyacinth on the sofa, and I worship him" (Kronenberg 111). The passion and love for Bosie were so strong that Wilde gave to his couple everything without waiting to receive anything in change, he was loyal, trusty and sincere in all he used to say and write for him. Oscar said in one of his letters for Bosie,

    "the red roseleaf lips of yours should have been made no less for music of song than for madness of kisses. I can't live without you. You are so dear, so wonderful, I think of you all day long ... London is a desert without your dainty feet, and all the buttonholes have turned to weeds ... I have no words for how I love you" (qtd. in Kronenberg 111-112).

    This shows how poetic, romantic and careful Wilde was in each letter he wrote. He tried to express exactly what he felt, and the phrase that confirms the passion is "I have no words for how I love you." This means that although in this paragraph he said the most beautiful things, he has no words to describe the immense love he felt, and that everything he had been able to say or write was not enough to show his love.

    Oscar Wilde lived during the eighteen century, a Victorian epoch on which the English society-especially the aristocratic class- was puritan, religious and with severe moral rules under a regime on which the state and especially the Roman Catholic Church has the power to rule. In consequence, as he loved Bosie he had to face and defend his ideas and feelings against this moralist society.

    The Marquess of Queensberry, the father of Lord Alfred Douglas and Wilde's enemy, accused Wilde of alienating Douglas from his family and corrupting him. Although Wilde have the advice of his friends, who feared that the effect on Wilde's life and career of such a public scandal was going to be terrible, Wilde continued not only challenging Queensberry but the society in general. In 1895 after a series of damaging testimonies as the ones that he had "acts of indecency with younger men", or that "his sexual instincts were concentrated on vulgar boy-prostitutes of the town" Wilde was prosecuted (Shulz 1).

    His first trial was the 3 of April 1895, which "lasted 3 days and contained perhaps the most famous cross-examination scenes of any trial, pitting Wilde"(2-3). The third day of the trial Wilde's defense urged the court to enter a plea of not guilty. However, Queensberry forwarded to the authorities the evidence that he had great pains because of his son and that evening Wilde is arrested at the Cadogan Hotel and remained in Holloway prison until his criminal trial began on the 26th of April. Seven days later, on the 1st of May, the defense analyzed The Picture of Dorian Gray and tried to make Wilde considered it as a product of an immoral author. "From the beginning to end, the trials were demonstrably about relations between men" (9). This day the jury could not reach a full consensus because of the legal technicalities and until the 25th of May Wilde was found guilty of seven charges and sentenced to two years of hard labor, the severest sentence possible (3). The imprisonment didn't stop Wilde because he continued writing a loving letter -titled De Profundis- to his couple while he was in jail.

    In May of 1897, Wilde released from prison and traveled to France with his wife with whom he lived until her death. He wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol and a year later he saw Lord Alfred Douglas in Italy and then returned to Paris.

    Oscar Wilde's death was controversial during the nineteenth century, and still there are some doubts about his death. As he contracted syphilis from a female prostitute this poisoned him and hastened the process of his death, that is why the doctors of that epoch thought that syphilis was the cause of his death. However, during his imprisonment he was examined by many doctors and psychiatrists and there is no reference of syphilis in any of the medical documents. However, several opinions of doctors and the medical certificate confirm that there were found in Oscar Wilde serious cerebral disturbances resulting form a long-standing suppuration of the right ear which has been undergoing treatment for several years and on the 27th of November the diagnosis of meningoencephalitis secondary to chronic right middle ear disease is confirmed (Robins and Sellars 1,2).

    Oscar Wilde died on November 30 of 1900; Bosie came to the funeral and paid for it. In his thumb the epitaph says "And alien tears will fill for him / pity's long broken urn / for his mourners will be outcast men / and outcasts always mourn" (Ovalle A20).

    Making an analysis of Oscar Wilde's writings, expressions and sayings a general definition of what love meant to him can be made. For Wilde, love is loyal, sensible, it is give everything and doesn't wait to receive something in change. Love is the base of living and enjoying life, because without love, life is incomplete although you were the richest or the wisest person in the world. The real love involves sacrifice, pain, and renouncement, it is give everything to someone else with all your soul, heart and mind.

    Oscar Wilde's writings have a message and talk about a beautiful feeling which is love; the love of a mother to her daughter, the love in a couple, etc. The most known and important novel that shows the big love between two men and that people consider that is a reflection of Oscar Wilde's life is The Picture of Dorian Gray, a novel that appeared in the early 1890s, a period of an extraordinary success for him.

    It is about the love that a painter named Basil has for a beautiful young man named Dorian of whom he painted a portrait, as Dorian liked his youth he wished to give everything, including his soul so that he can always be young and only the portrait grows old. So he had to face a lot of problems as depression, a friend's murder, loneliness and all this problems finished until the destruction of the picture and in consequence his death. In this novel, we can find the big love between two men saying that he was his ideal, the intelligence, the nobility and his happiness (Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray 10, 130). In this novel it is shown how big is the love of a man although it was dedicated to another man because it doesn't matter to whom the love is given, the important thing is what you feel for your couple is true and sincere.

    In this novel the love was between two men, so we can find some elements of homosexuality, for example when Basil says: " I couldn't be happy if I didn't see him every day. He is absolutely necessary to me" (10), "[h]e likes me, I know he likes me. Of course.. I find strange pleasure in saying things to him that I know I shall be sorry for having said" (12) and what it confirms that Basil loves Dorian is when he expressed his love in the next paragraph:

    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 visible incarnation of that unseen ideal whose ...I wanted to have you all to myself. I was only happy when I was with you...I only knew that I had seen perfection face to face, and that the world had become wonderful to my eyes ... (96).

    This shows how deep is the love that Basil felt since he knew Dorian. He is expressing his feelings in a romantic way and what is more important he is sincere in everything he say, although he knew he was expressing his love to a man. Here Basil teaches that the love to a person can be so huge that you will feel it in all your mind, soul and body.

    This novel is constantly pointing out the reader the love in different ways, for example, the way Basil is expressing his feelings, the love to the portrait, the love to paint, and especially the love to the youth for example, Dorian was a vanity young guy who wanted to be always handsome and that Basil loves. This love to the beauty and the youth we can see it reflected in Wilde's life because as he was always having relations with younger and handsome guys, he said that being with younger people, made him feel younger. Unfortunately this beauty only lasts physically because all the wickedness was reflected in the character's soul-the portrait.

    Oscar Wilde argued that this novel teaches many things, for example, that all excess, as well as all renunciation brings its own punishment, it also shows that the giving of love will also cause suffering (x). The Picture of Dorian Gray is a dramatic or even a melodramatic novel that was qualified as immoral, poisonous and superficial. It shows to the society the expression of different kinds of feelings and human behaviors that make the novel more real and vivid however, what happened in the novel is like a metaphor.

    In 1891 Wilde wrote fairy tales named A House of Pomegranates on which the theme of love is constantly pointed out. In The Nightingale and the Rose and The Happy Prince, we also find that the love is an important element expressed in each tale. The Happy Prince is about a big gold statue named the Happy Prince who watched all the poverty and the needs of the poor people. While the Happy Prince was weeping, a Swallow settled on his feet and since then, it fell in love. The Happy Prince told it to give every ruby, and every part of his body made of gold to each poor people. The Swallow did what it was told, until it died because of the cold climate and in consequence the leaden heart of the Happy Prince broke in two. Once God told to one of His Angels to bring the two most precious things in the city and the Angel brought the leaden heart and the dead bird. God said to this: "... for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me" (Wilde, The Writings of Oscar Wilde 17).

    This tale and The Nightingale and the Rose have some things in common. In The Happy Prince it is shown how big is the love of a Swallow for the Happy Prince and the big love of the statue for all the poor people of his city. In The Nightingale and the Rose it is mentioned the big love of a Nightingale for a boy to whom it gave his life in order to give him a red rose. Although in both tales they know that the sharing of love will cause their death, they continue doing what they wanted, and helping other's not caring about of what would happen to their lives.

    The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend and The Young King teach the reader the importance of the friendship. When love is involved it is important to be careful in the way you treat your friends and the way your things are shared because what it is given is what it is going to be received. The Selfish Giant is about the love of a selfish Giant to a little boy who taught him to share his garden with others and in change, the Giant received the Paradise. In The Devoted Friend a boy shows that although he didn't receive anything, he gave everything he had and did whatever he can in order to keep his friendship.

    A very romantic fairy tale is The Fisherman and His Soul which shows the love that a Fisherman felt for a Mermaid although he had to live without Soul. His Soul tried to convince him to return by telling him that it will give him wisdom and money, but the fisherman answered "Love is better than wisdom, and more precious than riches, and fairer that the feet of the daughters of men. The fires cannot destroy it, nor can the waters quench it..." (Wilde, The Works of Oscar Wilde 271). This tale really expresses what love is and that it is the most valuable thing in the world that cannot be compared with anything.

    The Canterville Ghost is a similar story to the last two fairy tales mentioned before on which Wilde shows the love between a girl and a Ghost. Although the girl didn't know the Ghost, he decided to help him so that he can rest in peace and finished feeling pain on earth. In gratitude to her help, the Ghost gave her a coffer full of jewels and money. This tale makes the reader think about the selfishness, the envy and the avarice and the importance of being shared and helpful with others.

    In 1892, a successful play named Lady Windermere's Fan showed a different point of view of love. In this play the love of a mother to a daughter can be seen. Oscar Wilde confirms it by explaining that this play is about a woman named Erlynne who has had a child, but she had never known the passion of maternity, suddenly sees that the daughter she has abandoned was married with a rich man, so she decided to take advantage of her. However, the circumstances made her help her daughter and, the maternal feeling she felt was a terrible emotion, she felt a big passion of love to her daughter that she can't describe.(Wilde, Lady Windermeres Fan xxxiii). This play is an example of love between a mother and a daughter, as it is seen, love not only causes cheerfulness and happiness but in this woman the love causes suffering and lamentation for having abandoned her daughter.

    An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Ernest are two funny plays produced in 1895 which are very similar because in both, it is shown that a man or a woman are capable to make whatever it's necessary -although they get into troubles- in order to keep the person they love with them. In The Importance of Being Ernest two handsome guys changed their named into Ernest even one of them decided to get baptized as Ernest so that their engaged, whom they wanted to marry somebody called Ernest, didn't leave them. In An Ideal Husband although a man wanted to keep a secret in order to protect his wife, she knew it and helped his husband in everything she can, so that the secret is not known by the society.

    As well as his plays, novel, letters and fairy tales, his poems also express the love to the beauty, to his couple, for the freedom, to his friends, to the senses, etc. by using metaphors, comparisons and the most important thing is that he expressed really what he felt. Some examples are QUIA MULTUM AMAVI (Because I have loved so much), SILENTIUM AMORIS (The Silence of Love), Her Voice, and To my wife where he said, "Sweet, there is nothing left to say / But this, that love is never lost ... " (Wilde, The Writings of Oscar Wilde 775).

    In this work they are mentioned different stages of Oscar Wilde's life. His years in College, the periods of success that the English society enjoyed when he presented or published one of his plays or stories, the problems he had to face in order to keep his love with Bosie, the death of his mother and wife, and the terrible threatens and insults he received from the same English society when he went to jail.

    As it is seen in this work love is present in Oscar Wilde every day's life, and it is reflected in each play, novel, story, letter or fairy tale he wrote. He considered that love is the most important thing he had ever had in his life, and he felt lonely if the person he loved wasn't with him. Love for Wilde persepctive wasn't only happiness, satisfaction, joy and pleasure. but it was also pain, sadness, and depression, as he had to live and learn when he was with Bosie.

    Oscar Wilde's life and writings are full of teachings that can be applied nowadays in the daily life of each person. Actually, technology is making people forget about the moral values and feelings that are important to use in life. It's time to remember those beautiful fairy tales that help us to be more sensitive, helpful and comprehensive with other people.


    Barnard, Robert. A Short History of English Literature. 1984. Great Britain: Blackwell Publishers, 1991

    Kronenberg, Louis. Oscar Wilde. Boston: The Library of World Biography, 1976.

    Fold, Michael S. The trials of Oscar Wilde: Deviance, Morality, and Late-Victorian Society. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1997

    Oscar Wilde. Dir. Brian Gilbert. With Stephen Fry, Vanessa Redgrave and Jude Law. Quality Films, 1996.

    Ovalle, José. " Los procesos contra Wilde. " El Universal 4 Jan.2001, nat.ed. sec. A-20

    Robins, Ashley and Sean L. Sellars. "Oscar Wildes terminal illness: reappraisal after a century." The Lancet CD-ROM. Ltd. Time.25 Nov. 2000

    Schulz, David. "Redressing Oscar Wilde: performance and the trials of Oscar Wilde." TDR Cambridge CD-ROM. InfoTrac. May 1996:

    Wilde, Oscar. Lady Windermeres Fan.. Great Britain: Methuen Student Editions, 1985.

    - - - . The Works of Oscar Wilde. 1948. Great Britain: Collins, 1949.

    - - -. The Importance of Being Ernest. 1981. Great Britain: Methuen Student Editions, 1990.

    - - -. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 1976. Great Britain: Everymans Library, 1992.

    - - - . The Writings of Oscar Wilde. ed. N.Y.:WM.H. Wise & Company, 1931.

    Young, Ian. "Who Framed Oscar Wilde?" The Gay and Lesbian Review CD-ROM. Electronic Collection. Summer 2000


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