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Oscar Wilde :: Crime, Scandal, Spectacle

Oscar Wilde

Ironically it was at the premiere of this very play, The Importance of Being Earnest, that Wilde’s homosexual affair blew up into a massive scandal.  Ari Adut discusses the Wilde scandal in his book, saying, “Over and above reacting to Wilde’s homosexuality, the authorities were endeavoring hammer and tongs to ward off the contamination of his publicized sin.  Their asperity, however, unwittingly authorized the presses ire against the dramatist, which, in turn, only spurred the authorities to be more fervent” (Adut 66-67).  Wilde himself was living out certain desires which were frowned upon by Victorian society and, given his high status as a wealthy and well known individual and the fact that he was considered to have contaminated other upper class strata of society when his homosexuality went public, it is unsurprising the trial went very badly for him and the authorities punished him quite severely.

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