The Homosexual Image Of The Wilde Trials : Trying A Man And A Model Essay

The Homosexual Image Of The Wilde Trials : Trying A Man And A Model Essay

Length: 1460 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Homosexual Image in the Wilde Trials: Trying a Man and a Model
For a modern audience, Oscar Wilde represents a quintessential example of homosexuality, especially among notable historical figures. However, this audience may not realize how much influence Wilde had over popular conceptions of homosexuality; in fact, many believe that Wilde’s trial in fact represented the birth of the popular homosexual image. If critics like Alan Sinfield and David Halperin are to be believed, the Wilde trials served as the crucible for the concept of the male homosexual. As the many nineteenth-century models of male sexuality came under trial, the rhetoric of Queensberry’s defense in Wilde’s first trial was critical in the convergence of these models to form the homosexuality model that has since dominated. By applying various elements of the effeminacy, inversion, and sodomy models to define one man and linking them with homosexual acts, the language of the trials synthesized a clear image of male homosexuality for the first time, with Oscar Wilde as its representative.
While Halperin argued that the effeminacy model could apply to “an excess of what we would call heterosexual as well as homosexual desire” (92), the defense’s association of effeminacy with criminal or deviant homosexual acts firmly linked this definition of effeminacy to the new male homosexual image. Even before breaking effeminacy down into excessive heterosexuality and excessive homosexuality, Wilde quite clearly fits the effeminacy model as described by Halperin. If “normative masculinity often entailed austerity, resistance to appetite, and mastery of the impulse to pleasure” (Halperin 93), Wilde made no secret and felt no shame of his failure to meet this standard. Q...

... middle of paper ...

...hroughout the trial, the defense deviated the least from Halperin’s model of sodomy. Repeated evidence of the age, class, intellectual, and economic differences between Wilde and his companions clearly points towards a pederastic model of homosexual behavior. However, while sodomitical behavior characterizes the post-trial homosexual, the pederastic aspect was not integrated into this image. Furthermore, changes in the connotations of sodomy towards homosexual acts seem to stem not from legal arguments but from the association of the ideas of sodomy and homosexuality. Because of the infamy and influence of the Wilde trials, the concept of the male homosexual they brought about continues to dominate. Through the defense’s connections of various notions of homosexuality to each other and to Wilde’s specific personality and behavior, this clear image was able to emerge.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Homosexuality in the Works of Oscar Wilde Essay

- Homosexuality in Oscar Wilde's Work       "I turned half way around and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself" (7). During the Victorian era, this was a dangerous quote. The Victorian era was about progress. It was an attempt aimed at cleaning up the society and setting a moral standard. The Victorian era was a time of relative peace and economic stability (Marshall 783)....   [tags: Biography Biographies Essays]

Better Essays
3111 words (8.9 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Oscar Wilde 's ' Dorian Gray '

- Everyone is merely a product of their surroundings and become what they have been raised to be. While some remain untempted by the vices of their peers, others completely absorb the negative influences in everyday life. Modern society values beauty over substance and The Picture of Dorian Gray serves to reveal that flaw. Oscar Wilde criticizes the superficial nature of people by satirizing the corruption of their views on morality. He says “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame” (Wilde 238)....   [tags: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde]

Better Essays
1454 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on The Trials Of Salem Witch Trials

- Salem witch trials The Salem Witch Trials were a series of harsh, unconstitutional, and even chaotic trials that killed several innocent people and harmed others. There were several reasons different sources have come up with that are said to have cause in the trials and the way they played out. Some of the reasons that cause the trials to go how they went is the weather, religion, and lust. Through out my research over the topic I learned that the judges in charge of the trials let fear and conspiracy control their judgment in the trials and caused several innocent people to die....   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, The Crucible]

Better Essays
1140 words (3.3 pages)

The Trials Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

- In 1692 the town of Salem, Massachusetts was home to one of the most controversial upsets in judicial history. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions in which several people in colonial Massachusetts were accused of performing witchcraft. The supernatural was a commonplace observance in 17th-century North America. “:Witchcraft cases were hardly unknown in New England in the 1600s—more than a hundred were recorded before 1692—but they were mostly isolated, widely separated in time and space, scattered around the colonies”(Brandt 38)....   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Puritan, Salem]

Better Essays
727 words (2.1 pages)

Analysis Of Oscar Wilde 's ' Picture Of Dorian Gray ' Essay

- Living in a generation where passion has nothing to do with your partner anymore and love is confused with lust creates the mindset that the community has been distorted in. Hypnotized to believe that intellect is stupidity and love is just decoration is the message and satire that Oscar Wilde is trying to convey. In Pictures of Dorian Gray, Dorian’s innocence is being influence by outsiders to create his own dystopia by disregarding reality which attacks the mind and leaves evil in Dorian when he realizes that life is more than art....   [tags: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, Love]

Better Essays
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Trying to Live up to Media Stereotypes

- Everyone in the United States has the access to some form of media, whether it is watching advertisements on the television or seeing an advertisement on the computer. People see an advertisement every day. Most people when they see an advertisement they do not think too much about it. Most people would notice the product trying to be sold. However, what people do not notice are the underlying messages in advertisements. Then young children are expose to all the different types of advertisements and get a sense of that they should grow up to fit into gender stereotypes....   [tags: negative effects on self esteem and image]

Better Essays
832 words (2.4 pages)

The Salem Witch Trials And The Mccarthy Trials Essay

- Wiccaphobia During the 1690’s in Salem, Massachusetts, one of the most disgraceful events in American history took place. 20 innocent people were sentenced to death on charges of witchcraft (Kortuem). At the time there was a witch scare sweeping across the North East of America in a time we know today as the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials was one of the most shameful events in American history. In fact, it was compared to another event by a man named Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller was a playwright from New York who wrote many famous plays like Death of a Salesman, All my Sons, and of course The Crucible (Kortuem)....   [tags: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Witchcraft]

Better Essays
1396 words (4 pages)

Essay on Homosexual Elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

- Homosexual Elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray       In spite of the novel's heterosexual text, many critics agree that it has various homosexual elements in its characters, in the dialogues, and even in the portrait itself. One of the critics, Richard Dellamora, mentions this feature of the text, and comments that "By definition this context is heterosexual. Wotton is married and pursues actresses. Basil himself is a graduate of Oxford, a well-established artist, and respectable to a fault" (28)....   [tags: The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde]

Better Essays
1610 words (4.6 pages)

Salome by Oscar Wilde Essay

- Salome by Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde’s gruesome and controversial play begs and important question. Who is Salome. In the bible this woman is not even given a name. She is the daughter of Herodias who dances for the pleasure of her stepfather, Herod. Perhaps the very fact that she remains unnamed is part of the mystery and problem that is Salome. There was no need to name this type of woman in patriarchal Christian religion. Yet, Salome’s story continues to inspire and terrify both her champions and her harshest critics....   [tags: Salome Oscar Wilde Essays]

Better Essays
1340 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Scottsboro Trials and To Kill A Mockingbird

- The Scottsboro Trial and the trial of Tom Robinson are almost identical in the forms of bias shown and the accusers that were persecuted. The bias is obvious and is shown throughout both cases, which took place in the same time period. Common parallels are seen through the time period that both trials have taken place in and those who were persecuted and why they were persecuted in the first place. The thought of "All blacks were liars, and all blacks are wrongdoers," was a major part of all of these trails....   [tags: Scottsboro Trials]

Better Essays
1162 words (3.3 pages)