Oscar Wilde, Victorian or Anti-Victorian?

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3 October 2012
Oscar Wilde, Victorian or Anti-Victorian?
Oscar Wilde was a writer during the end of the Victorian era. This is one of the reasons that it is difficult, and still debated, whether he was a Victorian writer or not. His private life was far from the puritanical image of the Victorian era. The Victorian age was full of rigid sensibilities, while the anti-Victorian movement veered in the complete opposite direction. The anti-Victorians were much more adventurous with sex. There was talking about plural sexualities and many extramarital relationships. Knowing the many escapades of Oscar Wilde leads me to believe he was an anti-Victorian writer. When he wrote of sex, he seemed to have a disdain for those committing the acts. An example of this can be seen in The Harlot’s House. In this poem, Wilde refers to the people inside of the brothel as skeletons, puppets and “a horrible marionette”. (Wilde) His seemingly negative attitudes are thought to be his own witty mockery of societies feelings. His goal was to hold a mirror to society to expose the insincere nature of the Victorian era. Much of his writing accomplishes this, but with his flamboyant lifestyle and subsequent trials, “exposed the conservative society to extreme scrutiny”. (“The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde”) When he wrote The Importance of Being Earnest, one of his most famous plays, he used parody and irony to show the moral hypocrisy he saw in the Victorian era. Here the characters are more concerned with style than substance. By telling white lies in an extremely gracious manner, they are able to keep the images and masks they have put in place for society. There is also the matter of his own flamboyant lifestyle, which caused the downfall of his career. He was known to make frequent visits with male prostitutes, although he attempted to keep this secret. It is rumored that he had many homosexual affairs, but the one that seems to be the most damaging to his reputation was...
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