Oscar Wilde is an Irish playwright and poet. He was born on the 16th of October in 1854, in Dublin, a bustling city of Ireland. He was the bright son of Sir William Wilde, one of leading Ireland’s ophthalmologic, while his mother, Jane née Elgee, was a poet. His professional and literary parents played a pivotal role in his early years. His father’s extensive reading collection helped him shaping his creative mind, however, his mother’s linguistics skills left a deep influence on his life and later works.
Oscar Wilde grew up in a house full of books, folklore, rhetoric, and interesting personalities, which enabled him to become a passionate reader and writer. His home became his first institution, where he stayed with his German governess and a French nursemaid, who taught him their languages. At the age of nine, he was admitted to the Portora Royal School at Enniskillen, where he enjoyed reading Greek and Roman studies. A bright student, he won the school’s prizes in the last two years. Later, in 1871, he won Royal School Scholarship and joined Trinity College, Dublin. He graduated in 1874 winning a scholarship for further study at Oxford. He also won the Berkeley Gold Medal as the best student in Greek. At Oxford, he continued to polish his creative and intellectual abilities. Also, he made his first writing attempt during his stay at Oxford.
The iconic figure, Oscar Wilde, developed meningitis on the 25th of November in 1900. This fatal disease swallowed all the pleasures of his life. Soon he lost the battle of life on the 30th of November in 1900. At first, he was buried in Franc, while later his remains were transferred to another cemetery in 1909.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- In 1878, his first literary piece “Ravenna” won the Newdigate Prize for the best English verse composition by an Oxford undergraduate.
- He married a wealthy Englishwoman, Constance Lloyd, in 1884 and the couple had two sons.
- Although he was a remarkable figure in the literary world, yet he had his dark sides too. He was imprisoned for his homosexuality in 1985, where he was forced to do hard labor.
Oscar Wilde began his literary career at a very young age. That is why his literary work achieved maturity quickly. During his stay at Oxford, he became involved in an aesthetic movement “Art for art sake,” which he reflected in most of his works. His first collection of poetry, Poems, was published in 1881. This publication received a mixed response from the readers and critics. Later, in 1888, he came up with fairy-stories, Happy Prince and Other Tales, which he wrote for his two sons. After getting the desired response, he tried his hands on novels, too, and his first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray hit the shelves in 1891. Unfortunately, the novel received a poor response but the author did not lose hope. Later, in 1892, he produced his first play Lady Windermere’s Fan. His successful effort paved the way for a string of highly popular comedies that established him as a great playwright of his time.
Oscar Wilde possessed a remarkable ability to incorporate aspects of both realism and fantasy in his literary pieces. It is through realistic dialect and thoughtful imagery, he documented two contrastive genres in his pieces. He vividly described situations and characters, using various literary devices such as morbid imagery, paradox, symbolism, metaphor, and rhetorical devices. Another style that is evident in his novel is the fantastic representation of dialogue rather than action. Also, he has an astonishing grip on the dark side of human nature. Therefore, he presented the viciousness and darkness that reside in everyone’s soul.
Some Important Works of Oscar Wilde
- Best Poems: Some of his major poems include “The Ballad Of Reading Gaol”, A Vision”, “Ava Maria Plena Gratia”, “We Are Made One with What We Touch and See”, “On The Massacre Of The Christians In Bulgaria”, “Sonnet Written In Holy Week At Genoa” and “Sonnet On Hearing The Dies Irae Sung In The Sistine Chapel.”
- Other Works: Besides writing poetry, he tried his hands on other areas of literature, too. Some of them include The Happy Prince and Other Stories, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest, and A Woman of No Importance.
Oscar Wilde’s Impact on Future Literature
Oscar Wilde, one of the most compelling and magical literary figures, mesmerized the generations with his witty, philosophical, and creative thoughts. His efforts to display aesthetic values instead of moral and social themes won laurels from his readers and fellow writers alike. Besides literary accomplishments, he also won hearts for his genuine wit that enabled him to express his ideas about life, death, and alienation in a professional way. Today, when modern writers write, more often they try to imitate his style for the uniqueness his work demonstrates.
- “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
- “Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” (The Critic as Artist)
- “I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.” (The Importance of Being Earnest)