Coming into this class, I only really knew about Wilde’s reputation with his trial and imprisonment. Actually reading his work has illuminated so much about him, and made me think about the circumstances around his fate. That is what I focused my final paper about, specifically thinking about the concept of predestination.
I thought the concept of predestination was interesting because it is the idea of an inescapable fate. Wilde talks about this in Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, with Lord Arthur thinking he was unable to escape his fate of having to murder someone. But the chiromantist is proven to be a fraud, and this, along with the use of comedy, shows that Wilde is critiquing predestination. But, I then thought about the ending through the lens of what type of fate one gets based on their status and class.
Lord Arthur, even though his fate was false and he committed the crime, had a happy ending. I think this was because he was a member of the conventional aristocracy, a group of people who always had a prosperous ending in Wilde’s stories. Wilde, on the other hand, did not share the same social acceptability because his identity as a queer man. So, thinking about his fate, you could say that he was predestined to have a tragic ending. This is related to the concept we discussed in class of queer people not getting happy endings in many cases of life, and art. Wilde partly predicted his fate through his art, namely through The Picture of Dorian Gray, looking at the parallels between the relationship between Dorian Gray and Lord Henry in comparison with the relationship between WIlde and Bosie. I thought another interesting point from his work was in The Importance of Being Earnest, where Jack and Algy’s bunburying (which could be seen as a representation of a queer double life) started to derail their lives, but they both got happy endings when they submitted to the conventional Victorian marriage and lifestyle.
I really enjoyed getting to read deeper into Wilde’s works and in turn learn more about his own life this semester!