The more I read of Gross Indecency, the more progressively annoyed I got with Oscar as the play went on, for a number of reasons. For one, his wit, which is delightful in small doses, grew rather tiresome as the play wore on, and I started to understand somewhat why Wilde was someone who was both widely admired, and rather despised by the people of his time. I understand that this play is an artistic rendition of real events, but from what I understand it is a rather accurate one, specifically in regards to how Wilde acted in the courtroom.
The play paints Wilde as someone who is steadfastly determined to be a martyr, despite the harm that may befall those close to him. After all, Douglas was essentially forced to flee to Paris, and his wife and kids had to change their last names because of the verdict. Before being fully aware of the events, I thought of Wilde as a victim of an unfair justice system that punished him for his sexuality, and while that certainly is a side of the story, I find it hard not to perceive Wilde as the engineer of his own destruction. There were just so many ways for him to avoid imprisonment, from not suing the Marquess in the first place to fleeing to France on any number of occasions, at some point, him going to prison becomes somewhat of a conscious decision on his part. While I do very much feel for Wilde, it seems overwhelmingly selfish on his part to choose depriving his children of a father, and the love of his life of a lover, all to make a point about art that, at least in my opinion, is not all that clear. It seems to me that Wilde believed he was forced into choosing either to defend his art, or give in to those who opposed it, but I honestly question if that was ever the case, and I seriously question whether him going to prison accomplished whatever it is Oscar wanted to accomplish.