Between the years of 1837 and 1901, British history experienced a revolutionary period of economic and cultural growth. The new wealth that came with expansion created new class structures as an age of domesticity was inspired. As a result of this, the art world changed too. Writers became realistic as they believed they were serving a higher moral purpose while creating. They wrote of actual and practical life in the form of dramatic monologues. Visual imagery illustrated their emotions while
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Accordingly, early viewers found this to be deeply distasteful after the age of Romantics. Unlike many writers of his time, Wilde felt that “life does not just contain pleasure”, and that “there is great importance in sorrow” (Lit Net). Quite befitting a Victorian poet, his favorite stylistic device is the paradox. His most playful uses of both imagery and paradoxes can be found in The Picture of Dorian Gray, what was said to be one of the more conflicting -morally and aesthetically- books of his time.
That very book played a key role in Wilde’s ultimate demise. Not soon after his marriage, Oscar Wilde began confronting homosexual urges that had been with him since grade school. Upon coming to the realization of his sexual orientation, his work flourished. As such, the risk of being ‘found out’ did too. Additionally, The Picture of Dorian Gray has homoerotic themes that baffled his audience. A secret affair he had with another man was found out by both the public and the father of the aforementioned lover. Wilde took the father to court in a libel situation and ended up in prison, charged for ‘gross indecency’. His life ultimately ended at odds with Victorian morals. Upon his release he was penniless and succumbed to cerebral meningitis on the 30th of November, 1900.
Wilde’s contributions to this genre of poetry all contain an aesthetic appeal that fits his writing criteria. The general themes did reflect reality; one particular poem, “Requiescat”, was a tragic elegy