A World Without Wilde
Oscar Wilde, a Victorian playwright whose literature is only rivaled by that of William Shakespeare. With wit, purpose and ability, Wilde is arguably the best to ever put pen to paper. The flattering words in the preceding statement may very well have been an accurate description of the legend of the Irish author, Oscar Wilde. However, during the peek of his career, he was imprisoned. Wilde was not incarcerated for the murder of an innocent child or the rape of a young woman; but for loving a person of the same sex. A literary genius, sentenced to hard labor, for the charge of “gross-indecency” as the court put it. Wilde would eventually die of an illness related to his sentence. Sadly, works of pure art, such as The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Grey would from then on stand alone. Who knows what amazing works of art Oscar Wilde would have written if allowed to continue living his life. A great contributor to literature was taken on the basis of a seemingly inaccurate judgment of what was morally wrong and right. In the words of Wilde himself, “Morality, like art, means drawing the line some place.” Unfortunately, in the case of Oscar Wilde, that line was drawn much too early.
So, if I were to change one historical event, I would prevent the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde lived in a Victorian society where there was no room for independent thinking and individualism. For this reason, any homosexual act was dubbed an act of gross-indecency. This seems to be a heinous label, even for someone who is very much so against homosexuality. Sentencing another person to hard labor on the sole basis of their sexual orientation is, to say the least, an act of inhumanity. Furthermore, if I had the ability to change this event, the first thing I would do is prevent Queensbury, the prosecutor in Wilde’s case, from ever receiving the “incriminating” love note written on the back of a hotel card. This was the exposition to the long and grueling court cases to come, which would ultimately end unfortunately for Oscar Wilde.
The prevention of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment would be for the best for a seemingly selfish reason. If Oscar Wilde lived a longer life, who knows what works of literary genius he could have created. Of his many works, a personal favorite of mine is The Importance of Being Earnest, a play that mocks the idiocy and ignorant minds of the elites during the Victorian Era. Additional literature from Oscar Wilde would benefit not only me, but also a plethora of his appreciators. Wilde’s writing has offered so much to the literary mind, and more of his work would have profited many. Could one imagine what the world of playwrights would be like if Shakespeare was never permitted to write Twelfth Night or Romeo and Juliet?
Moreover, in my time during high school, I noticed the emphasis that my IB English teacher, Dr. Fox-Good, put on Oscar Wilde’s works. With every play we read, would arise a new issue or focal point for the class to discuss. For instance, in The Importance of Being Earnest, the focal point of our discussion was his use of sarcasm, especially when mocking the ways of high society. In The Picture of Dorian Grey, Wilde would endorse “free love;” which some say was a parallel to his ideals toward his own love life. So, if Wilde were not incarcerated and worked to death, he would have certainly written many more plays and novels. Thus, among many other things, offering classrooms around the world many more thrilling and captivating topics of discussion.
These topics would not be limited to literature itself, but what his literature could have done for a critical movement around the world. The movement I am speaking of is the ongoing gay rights movement. Many of Wilde’s satirical plays, such as The Importance of Being Earnest, had underlying themes of pro-homosexuality. This is exemplified by the characters Algernon and Jack, who live double lives as a