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Oscar Wilde: {16 th October 1854 – 30 th November 1900} Born in Dublin, Ireland. He first to prominence at Oxford University where he founded the Aesthetic.

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Presentation on theme: "Oscar Wilde: {16 th October 1854 – 30 th November 1900} Born in Dublin, Ireland. He first to prominence at Oxford University where he founded the Aesthetic."— Presentation transcript:


2 Oscar Wilde: {16 th October 1854 – 30 th November 1900} Born in Dublin, Ireland. He first to prominence at Oxford University where he founded the Aesthetic Movement which promoted “art for art’s sake” His major successes were on the London stage, with a number of highly accomplished plays such as “The Importance of Being Ernest”. In 1895 he was accused of sodomy by John Sholto Douglas, the father of Wilde’s intimate friend and lover, Alfred Douglas. After various court events, Wilde was charged guilty and imprisoned in London. He was released in 1897, although his health had suffered greatly, He had left England in a penniless exile. Wilde wrote the Ballad of Reading Gaol while in Barneval-le-Grand, France. He had spent what little money he had on alcohol. Wilde had died of cerebral meningitis on November 30 th, 1900.

3 Ballad Of Reading Gaol. {“Gaol”- a jail or prison.}. The poem is dedicated to the memory of the "sometime" Royal Horse Guards trooper, Charles Thomas Wooldridge, and the central incident is Wooldridge‘s execution for the murder of his wife, twenty-three-year-old Laura Ellen Wooldridge on March 29, 1896. Mad with jealousy, he borrowed a razor, waited for her on the road near her house, and slit her throat three times. It highlights the brutalisation of the punishment that all convicts share. As well as countering the death penalty and the whole penal system. This poem also refers to the basis of human nature. We cherish those things that are pure and beautiful. Yet, in the end we willfully destroy everything we yearn for. The full poem is 107 stanzas long, thus what is presented here is just the beginning extract.

4 “ He did not wear his scarlet coat, For blood and wine are red, And blood and wine were on his hands When they found him with the dead, The poor dead woman whom he loved, And murdered in her bed. ” “ They ” - the active term in the stanza, compared with the passive he. They appears with malicious intent. “ Bed “ – intimate setting, directly connects the committed murder to love. “ Blood and Wine ” – connected by the color red, which represents passion and desire. Wine symbolizes elegance as well as the demonstration of love. Whereas blood can be seen as violent and grotesque – like murder. “ Scarlet Coat “ – uniform worn by the royal guards.. “He did not wear his scarlet coat” demonstrates that he was acting from passionate instinct rather than his role as a soldier. Rhythm – the rhythm creates an emphasis on “loved” and then the “murdered” on the next line. Presenting that the crime was the direct result of love.

5 “ He walked amongst the Trial Men In a suit of shabby grey; A cricket cap was on his head, And his step seemed light and gay; But I never saw a man who looked So wistfully at the day. ” “ Shabby grey ” – lack of color, compared to the “scarlet coat” in the previous stanza. Signifies lack of passion because what he has once loved is now gone. “ Light and gay ” – Nonchalance. He did not believe that the murder he has committed was wrong.. “ Wistfully ” – Yet, he still regrets it. “ Suit of shabby grey… A cricket cap ” – the simplicity of his attire easily relates him to an average man. Thus presenting a certain part inside everybody that desires to destroy everything they hold dear.

6 “ I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky, And at every drifting cloud that went With sails of silver by. ” “ Wistful ” –repetition of wistful further emphasizes regret. “ Little tent of blue ” – prison cell windows. He is sheltered from the outside world, never to be able to experience it again. “ Drifting … Sails ” – Ship metaphors. Ships in open seas represent freedom. Thus he is watching his freedom pass by him, yet he is unable to do anything about it.

7 “ 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 fellows got to swing." ” “ Ring “ – the chains prisoners wore around their ankles. “Within another ring” signifies that the perspective has changed to a narrator who is in similar situation as the previous subject. “ Swing “ – get hanged. “ Voice behind me whispered ” – the voice is the law and the society. They are constantly judging who deserves to live and who does not.

8 “ 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. ” “ Casque of scorching steel ” – possibly describing a coffin, representation of death. “ Could not feel ” – he cannot register the physical pain anymore, only the emotional turmoil that is brought on by the experiences of prison.

9 “ I only knew what hunted thought Quickened his step, and why He looked upon the garish day With such a wistful eye; The man had killed the thing he loved And so he had to die. ” “ Quickened ” – Wants to be reprimanded and move on. “ Wistful ” – Another repetition of wistful, further emphasizes the regret that the prisoner feels. “ With such a wistful ” – alliteration, produces the sound of hushed whispers, as if the public gossiping about the crimes he has done, representing their moral outrage. “ He had to die ” – Rhythm puts the emphasis on “had”, this is what the society believes in and that there is no way around it.

10 “ Yet each man kills the thing he loves By each let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword! ” “thing ” – the woman in the previous stanza has been reduced to simply “thing”, meaning that anything that can be loved will eventually become an object meant for destruction. “ bitter look ” – a simple look of displeasure or annoyance that could possibly emotionally wound the other party. “ flattering word ” – lies to coax somebody into loving them. “ kiss ” – reference to Judas, who had cowardly betrayed Jesus with a kiss. “ Brave… sword ” – implying that it is better to physically kill the ones you love, rather than letting them suffer through the emotional pain you inflict them.

11 “ Some kill their love when they are young, And some when they are old; Some strangle with the hands of Lust, Some with the hands of Gold: The kindest use a knife, because The dead so soon grow cold. + Some love too little, some too long, Some sell, and others buy; Some do the deed with many tears, And some without a sigh: For each man kills the thing he loves, Yet each man does not die. + He does not die a death of shame On a day of dark disgrace, Nor have a noose about his neck, Nor a cloth upon his face, Nor drop feet foremost through the floor Into an empty place ” “ Hands of Lust… Gold ” – personification portrays the power of these on the human condition and how it affects the way we act and treat those around us. “ The kindest use a knife ” – as referenced in the previous stanza, physical death is the painless of them all. “ Each man does not die ” – highlights the injustice of the penal system. Although all of us commit the crime of killing everything we love and yearn for. Only those who inflict physical death will suffer.

12 The use of ballad form: The extensive paradoxes of the poem are encapsulated tightly in the closed, punctual form of a ballad. Creating an encircling ring representing the hypocrisy of the penal system., portraying the whole cycle of crime and punishment. This view is enforced by the use of an iambic tetrameter. It creates an image of repetitive and grinding prison work. Compare with: A Man I Am – Stevie Smith Here – R. S. Thomas A Dream - William Allingham A Quoi Bon Dire – Charlotte Mew From The Triumph of Time – A.C Swinburne

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