Bosie as a Low-Quality Peer

After reading De Profundis, I was shocked to learn about the extremely toxic and nonreciprocal nature of Wilde’s relationship with Bosie. This chaotic romance/friendship reminded me of a concept from my Economics of Innovations class last year. In the course, I learned about how one’s quality of peers can greatly influence his or her life. A good peer can inspire a friend to reach their fullest potential by sharing knowledge or increasing joint productivity while a low-quality peer provides the opposite effects. I would argue that Bosie is a low-quality peer for Wilde as he helped to destroy his art and career. This negative influence was clearly recognized by Wilde himself when he describes the result of his “unintellectual friendship” (874) as being “intellectually degrading” for Wilde’s art (875). Additionally, Bosie did “not understand the conditions requisite for the production of artistic work” and would hamper Wilde’s artistic process by dragging him to incessant dinners and social outings – instead of giving him the space and time to write (874). A good peer would have faithfully supported Wilde’s artistic process by reinforcing the behaviors/traits that had allowed Wilde to have such great success throughout his career. One the other hand, Bosie was the “absolute ruin of [Wilde’s] Art” (876) partly because “[Bosie’s] interests were merely in [his] meals and moods…[while his] desires were simply for amusements” (876). In this way, Bosie was nowhere near Wilde’s intellectual or creative equal and his distractions did seem to have a sizable negative effect on Wilde (both artistically and financially).  Wilde even appears to define Bosie as a low-quality peer by stating that “ultimately the bond of all companionship…is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis” (880). Here, “a common basis” most likely refers to having intellectual ability as a truly great conversation must be stimulating to both sides. From Wilde’s account, Bosie did not bring much substance or excitement to deeper conversation, which would have not enriched Wilde’s life academically or creatively. If Wilde had spent more time with his higher-quality peers (i.e., other great literary minds), he may have been pushed to reach even greater heights through competition and inspiration; however, Wilde was trapped in this toxic relationship with Bosie, which slowly poisoned his artistic ability until he was eventually thrown into prison.  

One thought on “Bosie as a Low-Quality Peer”

  1. I also found the extent of their relationship’s toxicity to be shocking. I really like how you connected this concept from your previous class to explain how detrimental Bosie was to Wilde. When thinking about the effect Bosie had on Wilde’s art and how negative it was makes me think about the difference in the relationship between Basil and Dorian. Dorian wasn’t good to Basil either, but he was an inspiration for Basil’s art, and Basil could only make really great art with Dorian as his muse. This is not the case with Wilde and Bosie, as Bosie sucks all creativity and productivity from Wilde.

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