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Oscar Wilde is a famous English writer who wrote the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and the play Salome at the end of nineteenth century. His aesthetic attitude of "art for art's sake" was well received and reported by scholars and researchers, but some moralists and religious leaders said he was so immoral that they could not accept and evaluate his work. Even if it was proper that they criticized him in those days, that was the Victorian Age, I would never agree with such an attitude toward his work. I am sure that one's work should not be evaluated on the basis of one's behavior or character, but should be evaluated on its worth. In literature, as in life, homosexuality or bisexuality is by no means incompatible with religious spirituality and human love meaning heterosexuality.
Chapter 1 The Background of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland on October 16 in 1854. His father, William, was a skilled eye doctor and an ear, nose and throat specialist. He also had a famous reputation in such fields as ethnology, archaeology, and literature. On the other hand, his private life created a sensation with love affairs. Oscar's mother, Jane, who was the daughter of a lawyer, excelled in many languages, including contemporary French, German, and old Celtic. She published many poems and translations under the pen name of "Speranza." Oscar inherited his parents' literary talent and their educational interest. His mother, Jane, was eager to have a girl for her second child when Oscar was born. She was so deeply disappointed to know that the child was a boy, that she began to bring him up as a girl. We can see a certain picture
which was famous as the "Eaton School of Ireland. Two professors. After that. who was an authority on Hellenism. "There were two turning points for me: one was that my father had sent me to Oxford University." Sherard indicated that Oscar had become homosexual because of experiences in his infancy. Ellmann. Robert Sherard. When he was ten years old. insisted: "This fact must be regarded as pivotal by a pathologist or a psychoanalyst (The Life of Oscar Wilde). had a great effect on Wilde during his Oxford days. Oscar entered Port Royal School. or Greek spirit. but it was also a very vulgar place where almost all the students indulged in dissipation. He added that the Greek and Latin classics promoted vices such as . it is reported that he was extremely poor at mathematics. when he was in jail. Later. Ellmann. The biographer.228). curly hair and wears a beautiful lace-frilled skirt. Oscar said. and the other was that a severe society had sent me to jail. I am sure that such an experience in his infancy must have had a great influence on his personality. and it was simultaneously a passage to destruction. both Greek mythological figures. After entering Maudarin College. he became attached to Hellenism and was eager to become intimate with a beautiful boy like Adonis who was loved by Aphrodite (Venus) or a handsome youth like Apollo. Oscar Wilde P. Walter Pater and John Ruskin. William. looking quite feminine (See an attached sheet). was one of the most prestigious universities in the world.in which Oscar has long. On the other hand. his inclination toward Hellenism became stronger and stronger. he entered Trinity College in Dublin. He learned of the marvelousness of Hellenism from Professor Mahaffy. and met a famous professor called Mahaffy. We know today that there are other factors involved. and was greatly absorbed in it. indicated that Oxford University."? He excelled in the humanities and he studied in the same class as his older brother. at the age of twenty. When he was seventeen. Oxford University." Oxford University was a glory for him. in those days. so he might have developed an inferiority complex about it and that resentment later surfaced in his writing. one of the most reliable Oscar Wilde biographers.
his gentle wife. his homosexual or bisexual tendencies. Oscar Wilde published the first series of juvenile literatures. It was clear that he was very happy at that time. I can find his original characteristics such as aestheticism and homosexuality even in the juvenile literature. I would like to show that even in The Happy Prince." Instead of using these expressions. First. that is to say. he was surrounded by a warm family. such as Dorian Gray or Salome. that fact does not detract from the literary value of this story at all. Cyril and Vivian. I cannot help perceiving another aspect or element. there was a happy prince." or "There was once the statue of the Happy Prince…. In this paper. There is one other thing that is significant in Oscar Wilde's character. the author's homosexuality is reflected in his descriptions of the Prince and the Swallow. but in reading these works. they have long and complex content. Chapter 2 The Expressions and Styles Although it should be good to write about the characteristics of his representative work. Many poetical expressions can be seen in this story because Wilde used to write poems during his university days. So let me choose a short story from his juvenile literature this time.homosexuality or bisexuality. titled A House of Pomegranates. I would like to call your attention to the underlined part . it makes the story religiously deeper and more touching. but I have short time to write. When Oscar left Oxford University in 1878. Constance. and tried to . everyone who read these works would suppose that these stories were full of happiness. he placed an impressive adverbial phrase unexpectedly at the beginning of the story. and two sons. reflected in the characters and their relationships. Wilde did not use such commonplace expressions as "Once upon a time. in 1889. in 1888 and the second series. however. he called himself "a professor of aesthetic" and he thought that aestheticism was the creed that would be attributed to him. titled The Happy Prince and Other Tales. In those days. Rather.
. (See the underlined part  below. for eyes he had two bright sapphires. we should take note of couplets such as: "So I lived. on a tall column.  "He is as beautiful as a weathercock. some new and unique ideas were expressed here. which sounds a bit strange to me. it seems to me that his viewpoint and mental state change frequently. "as changeable as a weathercock. stood the statue of the Happy Prince. He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold.)  "He looks just like an angel" said the charity children as they came out of the cathedral in their scarlet cloaks and their clean white pinafores. the Happy Prince is described as follows: "He is as beautiful as a weathercock. so I died (P. This story was written more than a hundred years ago and although the style of this story is a little bit oldfashioned. but are unique and interesting." he added. and pleasing to the ear." meaning "it turns around frequently like a weathercock" or "he changes his mind? often. "only not quite so useful. I suppose that Wilde might have chosen an unusual use of similes and metaphors to present his particular ideas. In addition." ?These couplets are simultaneously rhymed. We can find many similes and metaphors in this story. He was very much admired indeed." When I apply this meaning to the situation in the Happy Prince. In addition." A weathercock is simply an instrument that indicates direction and it is not suitable for expressing the marvelousness of the Happy Prince.  High above the city. In the underlined part .emphasize that the statue of the Happy Prince was standing up high and was beautiful.6). these expressions are not conventional." remarked one of the Town Councillors who wished to gain a reputation for having artistic tastes. fearing lest people should think him unpractical. and a large red ruby glowed on his sword-hilt. which he really was not. the word "weathercock" is usually used in such expressions as. The Happy Prince was also compared to an angel.
Now. (Middle part of the passage omitted) In the day time I played with my companions in the garden." "Ah! but we have. I would like you to refer to the underlined part  and . and the Mathematical Master frowned and looked very severe. and in the evening I led the dance in the Great Hall. but it is usually drawn as a girl (My translation). and though my heart is made of lead yet I cannot choose but weep."How do you know?" said the Mathematical Master. And now that I am dead they have set me up here so high that I can see all the ugliness and all the misery of my city. a sponsor. if pleasure be happiness. "an angel is a messenger who serves God in Heaven and is sent to a human world after devoting its life to God. My courtiers called me the Happy Prince. that is to say. The dictionary includes such examples as "a supporter who provides money. but I never cared to ask what lay beyond it. an angel has a neutral sex. everything about me was so beautiful. and so I died. "you have never seen one." So.  The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled with tears. and happy indeed I was.  His face was so beautiful in the moonlight that the little Swallow was filled with pity. and tears were running down his golden cheeks."? answered the children. we can imagine that the Happy Prince exhibited feminine characteristics of caring and giving from this simile. According to Eibei Koji-densetsu Jiten or A Dictionary of English & American Phrase and Fable (FUZANBO). for he did not approve of children dreaming." Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam) says that the word "angel" originally came from the Greek word "angelos" or messenger. So I lived. However. Round the garden ran a very lofty wall." From the underlined parts  and . in our dreams. we can visualize a feminine image of the Happy Prince who has tears on his golden cheeks and is standing under .
we can see similar tendencies in the little swallow. was bisexual and sometimes conveyed either a masculine or? feminine impression.  "Swallow. little Swallow. Aphrodite. little Swallow ---" began to gradually soften the stiff and selfish heart of the Swallow. The Prince's affectionate words. said the Prince. the little Swallow appeared as a male who loved a coquettish reed by the river. as well as Wilde. These words and tones sound affectionate to us and make us happy in the same way. "a swallow is a bird that belongs to the goddess. and made the little Swallow? begin to love the Happy Prince. We can surmise that the Happy Prince. the conversation between the .? His beauty and nobleness moved the little Swallow deeply. The little Swallow began to behave in a feminine way. and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty. who was selling matches in the cold without shoes and stockings. he got the Swallow to deliver the sapphire to a girl." (My translation) As I mentioned Wilde's devotion to the culture of Hellenism makes it clear that he also added feminine characteristics to the little Swallow. The Prince wanted to rescue poor people by giving them jewels that were shining on his sword and gold leaves that covered his body but he could not move an inch. "will you not stay with me for one night.the moonlight.. The persons receiving these objects were more desperate in due order. In the same way. after meeting the Happy Prince. Conversely. Swallow. Secondly. First of all. so he had to ask a favor of the Swallow who could move freely. According to The Encyclopaedia of Images and Symbols (TAISHUUKAN). to a fatherless family living in a poor house. and the mother so sad. "Swallow. At the beginning of this story." Wilde used such expressions repeatedly as in the underlined parts . Swallow. to emphasize the deepening friendship and love between the Prince and the Swallow. the Prince had the Swallow go and deliver the red ruby. which was shining on the sword. in Greek mythology.
it was full of so many words that they could not understand. and his lips are red as a pomegranate. Then. which is red in color and has a wide slit. and told him what he had done. as shown by the underlined part . "What a remarkable phenomenon. little Swallow." said the Prince. Now. Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy Prince. and he has large and dreamy eyes. We think it unnatural for an ordinary author to depict a young man's lips as "his lips are red as a pomegranate. "far away across the city I see a young man in a garret.  "It is curious. According to The Encyclopaedia of Images and Symbols (TAISHUUKAN)." I cannot help associating a sexual image with a pomegranate. in which he uses a strange simile. Swallow. "the pomegranate tree came from the blood of Dionysus in Greek . "A swallow in winter!" And he wrote a long letter about it to the local newspaper. Every one quoted it." (Middle part of the passage omitted) When day broke he flew down to the river and had a bath. both the Prince and the Swallow begin to feel warmth after doing such good deeds. He is leaning over a desk covered with papers. little Swallow. although it is so cold.Prince and the Swallow gradually grows more affectionate. "but I feel quite warm now." he remarked.  His hair is brown and crisp. "will you not stay with me one night longer?" (Middle part of the passage omitted)  "Swallow. I would like you to refer to the underlined part. Swallow." said the Prince. (Middle part of the passage omitted)  "Swallow." said the Professor of Ornithology as he was??? passing over the bridge. and in a tumbler by his side there is a bunch of withered violets.
However. Then they melted the statue in a furnace. King Solomon compared the cheeks of his bride to a pomegranate (My translation). We can surmise that Wilde found these persons disagreeable. will you let me kiss your hand?" The Prince answers. his eyes are gone." said each of the Town Councillors. "in fact. and he is golden no longer. and simultaneously." "And here is actually a dead bird at his feet!" continued the Mayor. They ." This conversation between the two is a confession of love as the relationship has already gone far beyond friendship. "As he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful." said the Art professor at the University. have you noticed that Wilde used capital letters at the beginning of some common nouns? We should regard this as unusual. "and it shall be a statue of myself. So they pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince. The homosexual imagery of this story crests just before the death of the Swallow when the Swallow bids farewell to the Prince. He must have hated the Mayor and the Town Councillors who had been involved in constructing the statue of the Happy Prince. "You must kiss me on the lips." "Of myself. Also. and the Mayor held a meeting of the Corporation to decide what was to be done with the metal.mythology." he said." said the Town councillors. for I love you." And the Town Clerk made a note of the suggestion. in Christianity. "Good-bye. dear Prince!. of course. it represents the virgin who brings fertility." It is natural that we should find a feminine image and sexual atmosphere in this simile. Referring to the words that are written in bold print above and below: "The ruby has fallen out of his sword. "We must really issue a proclamation that birds are not to be allowed to die here. and they quarreled. he is little better than a beggar!" "Little better than a beggar." said the Mayor. we should understand that Oscar Wilde wanted to express a particular meaning by using them as he did. "We must have another statue.
Cyril. and sought aestheticism as long as he lived. When he read one of his works aloud to them once." This work was titled "The Selfish Giant. Oscar Wilde) It is possible that one of the reasons why Wilde wrote juvenile literature was for his children. often crawling on his hands and knees pretending to be a horse or a lion. whom he loved very dearly." (Ellmann. as a fake scholar. he gave them Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883) and Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894). Biographer Sherard said that Wilde loved playing with his children more than anything. a trivial person. Chapter 3 The Motives for Creating? The Happy Prince We can suppose that one of the reasons why Oscar Wilde began to write juvenile literature is because he wanted to write beautiful stories for his children. Wilde supported the attitude of "art for art's sake". Moreover. His son. "Why are you crying now?" He answered. who said that. And .were very vulgar and selfish without thinking of their citizens and wanted to gain a reputation for having artistic tastes. Wilde hated such people as scholars. thought it strange and asked him. Sherard mentioned in his book that once Wilde's children were able to read books. and the whole book written in pure English. he wept unintentionally. he depicted the Mathematical Master as a rationalist who could never fantasize. Because of Wilde's resentment against mathematics teachers of his school days. he regarded the Professor of Ornithology. who wrote about trivial things as if they were very important. The Selfish Giant was perfect in its kind. "Really beautiful things always make me cry. of course he never hated them. As I mentioned above. (Sherard. He considered the Art Professor at the University. As for the Charity Children . who supported "art for life's sake". but he disliked the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the morals of the Victorian Age." which was highly praised by Professor Pater. The Life of Oscar Wilde) He would sometimes recite the books that he wrote himself.
however. he was burnt and melted with a dancer made of paper and changed into a shape of the heart. he wrote a letter to one of his friends saying. He even says they were raised high by the hand of God. 15 June 1888) The other motive that I would like to propose is that Wilde wanted to be compared with Hans Christian Andersen who had already become famous in the field of juvenile literature. (Hart-Davis. and who find in simplicity a subtle strangeness. That probably means their "after-world wedding" or at least a happy ending. the style of the endings is different. where Wilde wrote about the Prince's leaden heart. The story of The Happy Prince started from the scene when the Prince dropped his tears on the Swallow.she.yet. In the last scene of the story. They are studies in prose. too. and partly for those who have kept the childlike faculties of wonder and joy. but the story of The Tin-Soldier began as follows: She was standing on one leg with the other raised high in the air --. The end of The Happy Prince. . was steadfast. Here we can find some similarities to The Match Girl written by Andersen in Denmark. They are both "happy endings" in which the couples were raised above the "normal plane" and transformed into a new existence. Wilde made a match girl appear in this story as the poorest and most pitiful character. was similar in feeling to the ending of Andersen's The TinSoldier. The Tin-Soldier was deeply moved --. We can find one of the differences in the characteristics of the Prince and the Tin-Soldier in the meeting. and were consequently able to ascend to heaven. The Letters of Oscar Wilde. put for Romance's sake into a fanciful form: meant partly for??? children. On the other hand. Wilde changed his ending into the following expressions: The Prince's leaden heart and the Swallow's dead body were brought together without burning or melting. but that was hardly the thing to do. I am very pleased that you like my stories.he was ready to weep tin tears.
He stated his thought in the essay as follows: Of course. he must have wanted to be proud of being able to write a more rational and persuasive story than Andersen. . He might have thought that giving his property to the poor or oppressed would absolve this sin. but the couple never spoke to each other. He wrote an essay titled The Soul of Man Under Socialism in 1890. or even as a rule. one of the reasons why Socialism wants to get rid of the institution. Wilde might have felt discontent with such a description. of a fine or wonderful type. so he changed the situation to the descriptions mentioned above. Both these statements would be quite true. (Translated from Danish by L. Anyway.Kingsland) Not only did the Tin-Soldier not weep. but how to construct Individualism. have still many virtues. it might be said that individualism generated under conditions of private property is not always. and that the poor.She looked at him but they said nothing. He thought that Socialism itself would be of value simply because it would lead to Individualism. Wilde wanted to give his property to people who were extremely poor or oppressed.W. Probably. His idea of Socialism was not concerned with how to construct a Socialistic society. He not only denied the possession of private property but he also thought that it spoiled people. The possession of private property is very often extremely demoralizing. and that is. and that Socialism could improve Individualism. he was shocked and felt conscious of sinning. if they have not culture and charm. his idea of Socialism was substantially different from the original one. However. of course. When he understood the principle of Socialism. Wilde might also have wanted to express his thoughts on Socialism by using the style of juvenile literature. simply because he was born into a wealthy family and brought up happily without feeling any inconveniences.
the happiness of the Prince depended upon being isolated from the less fortunate in the society. he became the statue made by the Councillors with many jewels and gold leaves. He was merely one of the vulgar beings at that time. and stood regally high above the center of the town. When he was living at the Palace of San-Souci (Without-Anxiety). the more he "gained" in his humanness. but I feel quite warm now. After he died." (See the underlined part . in spite of himself. because he was in love with a coquettish reed on the riverside. He wanted to give these gaudy materials. In those days. to the poorest people of the town.we are able to understand the feelings of the two. Then he began to have a look at people who were in pain due to the harsh realities of life.) Although these two characters were completely different from one other in their origins and personal histories. but he became aware of the satisfaction of providing charity to the poor.that is to say. although the courtiers called him the Happy Prince. from the time after he was personified -. and so he died" without knowing real happiness. He murmured. his showy materials changed into love for the people. the Prince could neither shed tears nor feel sorrow. they felt an attraction as they became aware of the importance of human nature and . once the Swallow flew into the town and began to talk with the Prince -. because he never felt any doubt and died. The Prince's character was undeveloped at the beginning. The more he "lost" in valuable appearance. On the other hand. "It is curious. He was such a frivolous being and was only proud of his speed in flight. the Swallow was a failure who was made fun of and left behind by his colleagues. As soon as he began to perform acts of charity. Although we do not know the feelings of the Prince at this stage. although it is cold. It is exactly true that "So he lived. We can surmise that it was not real happiness. jewels and gold leaves.Chapter 4 The Subject of The Happy Prince It is important to understand the characters who appear in this story before understanding the contents. as a statue of the Prince was only a part of the scenery of the town.
Second. he became aware of the importance of loving others. Harper and Row. because love in this story was completely free from any restrictions. Human love offered to oppressed people as well as physical love between the same sex has to be admitted. love brings us more warmth as we love others at a deeper level. they rose to heaven as beings who had acquired supreme love. First. I could not help imaging the idea of Postmodernism. P285-P291. which was full of sorrow in the story. accepted by God. Even if the leaden heart was "burnt" by the highest heart. I dare say that Oscar Wilde must have wanted to write that all kinds of love should be celebrated. the leaden heart that was centered in the body of the Prince was cracked by a kiss from the swallow. they were given unchanging and eternal love from God. In this story. P1080-P1081) . Although it is not easy to understand the real meaning of the death or reincarnation of the two characters and the leaden heart of the Happy Prince. accepted and praised. At the end of this story. Third. obtained the desired results in? expressing the process of how both the Prince and the Swallow were able to gain humanness for themselves. So I wrote this as the last report.love. and continue forever. Also. it would no longer change shape. love develops in proportion to the maturity of our self-consciousness and our understanding of human nature. Finally. Bibliography A List of Books Cited ・ The Complete works of Oscar wilde (New York. unconditional love must be given to everyone. When all the Prince's gaudy material goods had been given away. This development. 1989. I dare to offer the following opinion to conclude my study of this story. the ecstasy of love was expressed in various ways. Then the two characters became one with the supreme being. and became reincarnated as the sons of God. In other words. Although this story was written in the 19th century.
Oscar Wilde -. P159) A Bibliography ・ Ellmman. Norbert. Mandarin Paperbacks. Robert Harborough. 1963) ・ Hart-Davis. A PENGUIN BOOK.WERNER LAURIE. Oxford University Press.Translated from German by David Henry Wilson (London. Oscar Wilde (London. Rupert. All rights reserved . T. 1989) ・ Hart-Davis. 1987) ・ Hart-Davis. The Life of Oscar Wilde (London. Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd. 1984.WERNER LAURIE. Oscar Wilde (London. Oxford University Press. Hamish Hamilton. Richard. Leonard Cresswell. Rupert. Oxford University Press.The efinitive Biography (London. 1990) ・ Ingleby. Cambridge University Press.・ HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES (London. Rupert. 1989) ・ Hyde. Montgomery. 1907?) ・ Kohl. 1910?) All RIGHTS RESERVED Copyright 2002 Mituru Onda. More Letters of Oscar Wilde (London.The works of a conformist rebel -. Selected Letters of Oscar Wilde (London. The Letters of Oscar Wilde (London. 1989) ・ Sherard. Oscar Wilde . T.