Throughout De Profundis, Wilde’s distinction between the Love within himself and the Hatred within Bosie showcases Wilde’s lack of self-awareness. He argues extensively about how hatred causes blindness but seems thoroughly unwilling to analyze how his love for Bosie might have blinded him as well. In class this past week, we talked about how Wilde can’t see past his own narcissism. He calls out Bosie thoroughly in De Profundis, but he doesn’t take the blame to the same extent. He analyzes the situation, but can’t see where he needs to change.
One of the most scathing call-outs in De Profundis is when Wilde tells Bosie, “In you, Hate was always stronger than Love” (999). Wilde acknowledges that Bosie loves him. He believes that Bosie doesn’t just love him for his fame and wealth; he thinks there’s something more to Bosie’s love for him. However, any sense of love that Bosie might have for Wilde is far outstripped by Bosie’s hate for his father. Therefore, Wilde becomes a pawn in Bosie’s plan to hurt his father. The plan to land Bosie’s father in jail was doomed from the start, but Bosie couldn’t see that. Wilde writes, “Love can read the writing on the remotest star, but Hate so blinded you that you could see no further than the narrow, walled-in, and already lust-withered garden of your common desires” (1000). Although I agree with Wilde that Hate does blind people, Wilde exhibits a lack of self-awareness of how Love blinded him as well. He claims that “Love can read the writing on the remotest star” and therefore he could see the flaws in Bosie’s plan from the beginning, and yet, he still went along with taking Bosie’s father to court. All of Wilde’s friends were against this idea, but he just goes along with Bosie’s advice instead. This behavior reminded me of the Love in a Dark Time reading. Since Wilde loved Bosie in a time when their love was forbidden, that made the love more intense. It made him blindly follow Bosie. However, Wilde doesn’t acknowledge his own faults in this situation.
Wilde villainizes Bosie and paints himself as a victim of Bosie’s hatred. Wilde writes, “The aim of Love is to love: no more, and no less. You were my enemy: such an enemy as no man ever had. I had given you my life, and to gratify the lowest and most contemptible of human passions, Hatred and Vanity and Greed, you had thrown it away” (1005). Although it is tragic that Wilde wasted his love and had his life ruined, if “Love can read the writing on the remotest star,” he should’ve seen this coming. Wilde doesn’t seem to realize that he was complicit in having his life ruined. Perhaps if he were more critical of his own choices, his life wouldn’t have been the tragedy that it was. Perhaps he wouldn’t have gotten back together with Bosie after he got out of prison. Perhaps he could’ve made changes in his life. However, Wilde let prison destroy him. He predestined himself for tragedy.
One thought on “Hate is Blind, but so is Love”
I had a similar thought while reading De Profundis. Throughout, Wilde is very critical of Bosie, and rightly so. However, he never takes the next step to acknowledge his own role in what happened to him. He had the opportunity to leave England before his trial and chose not to. He continued to write Bosie and he went back to him after leaving prison, even though he knew their relationship was harmful. It is often hard for people in toxic relationships to leave them, but it is still frustrating for the reader to see Wilde be almost willfully ignorant of his own role.
In my research for my final paper, I found a quotation of Wilde’s in which he wrote to Bosie, “you are the divine thing that I want, the thing of grace and beauty.” By the time that Wilde wrote De Profundis, he saw himself as the Christ-like figure and Bosie as something corrupting. I think that that shift embodies the change in Wilde’s perspective by the time that he went to prison. He still sees his and Bosie’s relationship in terms of grand labels and divinity, but the roles have shifted. I think that connects to what you’ve written about love and hate and the way in which they can do similar things.