Oscar Wilde: The Theme of Morality and Ethics

Morality and ethics have been a common theme throughout Wilde’s works, as seen in Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime and even in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Especially with the story of Lord Arthur Saville, there is an atrocious lack of morality and remorse. Such lack of remorse and lack of consequences even after a murder are hid behind the idea of faith and purity. In a sense, because of his knowledge of his own fate, he sees that there is no possible solution but to carry out the action of murder so that he can continue a pure and unhindered life after marriage. Murder is an immoral action without question; however, Wilde offers the curious question of predestination and the effects of such. Convinced of his own fate, Saville commits what can be skewed as a just or at the very least, a merciful action. Wilde also adds in the important element of the “lie.” The action of murder and the determination to fulfill one’s fate was built upon a lie; such brings to question who is truly at fault. It’s interesting that Wilde leaves Saville unpunished for the act of murder and rather, supplies him with a happy ending abundant with family. On the other hand, Mr. Podgers is left as a victim of murder with no real indication of justice. While the one that had commited murder suffered no consequences and was given a happy ending, the one that had influenced the murder was left deceased with no hope for justice. Wilde seems to point at causation as the malevolent. Another interpretation of the story is centered around the theme of social class. It’s safe to assume that Saville does not belong to the lower class. He is entertained at parties and fashions a happy life with a wife and children. Perhaps Wilde was utilizing his character to point towards the uncomfortable truth that those of higher classes were able to commit immoral acts with no real consequences or repercussions.

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