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Author Study: Oscar Wilde Curated by Emily Liu '23

Paradox in De Profundis

“The gods are strange. It is of of our vices only they make instruments to scourge us. They bring us to ruin through what in us is good, gentle, humane, loving.”

    Gods are often portrayed as those who to award people’s kindness and good nature, while punish people who committed sins. Yet here, Wilde assume that the Gods punished him because of his was all kind and caring towards Bosie Douglas. Wilde believe that he didn’t do anything wrong in his relationship between him and Douglas, therefore the punish he received are the unwarranted punishments from the Gods.

Paradox in Wilde's poem

“And I shall weep and worship, as before”

——The New Remorse

    The narrator weeping for the lost lover but also worshiping their love. Weep and worship are two contradict emotions, here it appears on the same person at the same time. This shows the complex emotion the narrator holds towards the lover, how the narrator hated the lover yet still can't abandon their love.

“And your voice had a quaver in it,

Just like a linnet,

And shook, as the blackbird’s throat,

With its last big note;”

——The Rose and Rue

    Contradiction and symbolism. The linnet sings beautifully, while black bird (usually a way to represent craws or ravens) has a loud, rough sound. Blackbird can also symbolize death, while linnet represents vitality. The contradicted characteristics represented by two different birds is now shown on the same person, the use of symbols elevated the ambivalent attitude held by the lover.

Paradox in The Canterville Ghost

““I am so sorry for you,” she said, “but my brothers are going back to Eton to-morrow, and then, if you behave yourself, no one will annoy you.””

    Virginia (the girl who's speaking, also the protagonist) is here to ask a ghost to behave himself, as a ghost, the ghost of Canterville certainly doesn’t “behave” same as what humans would expect. But Virginia is a kind and innocent girl, she believes that the ghost would receive peace if he behaves because no one would bother him anymore.