Why Is Oscar Wilde Problematic

Oscar Wilde is a problematic figure for several reasons, some of which are more apparent than others. For one, the topics of his writings often carried the inescapable taint of the era in which he lived. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, espoused ideas of art, beauty, and morality that have been challenged over the last century. Additionally, Wilde has been accused of using language in his works and interviews to normalize and promote ideas seen as excessively hedonistic and callous. His poems and plays feature characters who often embrace a fatalistic attitude toward life, while at the same time frequently espousing principles of self-indulgence.

Wilde was also flawed in the sense that he adopted a world-view that, while popular in its day, did not stand the test of time. He was held in high esteem by many during his life, yet many of his ideas faced popular condemnation as the times changed. His notions of moral relativism, which argued that moral values were subjective and constantly changing, have been roundly rejected in modern times. Furthermore, he propagated a somewhat condescending attitude in his writings that would be considered unacceptable today. While he often spoke up for marginalized groups, his class-based worldview was out of step with today’s more egalitarian standards.

Wilde was also accused of exhibiting a false sense of superiority. His unwavering confidence in his ideas and in his position as a leader of society led to a detachment from the realities of his day. He often held himself above the masses, seeing himself as the only true arbiter of taste and refinement. This attitude, combined with his often disdainful attitude towards women, led to accusations of elitism and sexism.

Lastly, Wilde often had difficulty reconciling his avowed atheism with his love of the classics and the Bible. While he espoused the cause of moral relativism, he was deeply ingrained in the literature of antiquity and took considerable pleasure in the writings of Christian intellectuals. This inconsistency caused public confusion and accusations of intellectual dishonesty from many of his contemporaries. Furthermore, Wilde’s frequent use of religious figures in his writings further muddied the waters of his philosophy.

Class-based Worldviews

In his day, Wilde was widely respected and his writings often reflected a class-based worldview. He believed that one’s social position and position in society determined one’s values and worth. Wilde often held himself apart from the average society and fell into the trap of seeing himself as superior. Thus, his philosophy was embraced by the upper classes and rejected by many of the lower classes. While Wilde did speak up for downtrodden groups and engaged in charitable acts, his attitude of superiority and his class-based worldview never truly caught on with the working classes, who had little appreciation for his social messages.

Wilde’s writings often reflected his beliefs of the superiority of the upper class. For instance, his play The Importance of Being Earnest, which is widely considered to be one of his best works, employs a farcical view of the upper crust who, he believed, were above the mores of proper English society. By making them the butt of his jokes, Wilde showed contempt for the conventions of the social elite, which is why many in the lower classes found his humor to be offensive.

Wilde was equally misunderstood by those of higher social standing who, while they may have been bemused and even entertained by his writings, never saw them as a means to challenge the social order. For those of Wilde’s class, Wilde’s writings were seen as an affront to the traditional, conservative values that were deeply ingrained in the upper echelons of society.

Wilde’s writings also led to much confusion and criticism from those of the working-class. His works, while often lauded by the upper classes, were seen as ridiculous or even dangerous by many in the lower classes. Wilde’s characters often embrace and celebrate a life of leisure and ignorance, which is a lifestyle that is rarely found among the working classes. This has led to Wilde being perceived as an elitist and out-of-touch with the lives of those in the lower classes.

Finally, Wilde’s writings have been viewed as an endorsement of immorality. His work often featured protagonists who lived life to the fullest, disregarding society’s conventions and norms of behavior. This is seen as a lifestyle that, while pleasurable and attractive, is also inherently lacking in ethical and moral considerations. This has led to Wilde’s works being seen as a dangerous promotion of careless living, which has caused a great deal of consternation in both the upper and lower classes.

Lack of True Social Progress

Wilde often spoke of progress as an ultimate goal of human society. He viewed progress as an individual’s ability to “move forward” and create a better future for themselves and their children. However, Wilde’s writings often lacked the detail necessary to create real social progress. His works did not identify specific changes that needed to be made to existing systems of power or list concrete solutions that needed to be implemented. This lack of specificity made it difficult for those in a position to effect change to truly understand what Wilde had in mind when he spoke of progress.

Wilde’s views on society and progress also unfairly disregarded certain groups. He seemingly prioritized a certain set of values and ways of living that favored educated, affluent members of society. He also championed a type of behavior and a lifestyle that many felt excluded those that were not in the same situation. This focus on the values of the privileged classes obscured the very real struggles of many other members of society and in turn caused resentment and alienation among those who felt excluded.

Furthermore, Wilde often resorted to rhetoric that can be seen as condescending and demeaning. His works feature characters that often praised their own lifestyles while simultaneously deriding those who lived in poverty and whose lives were consumed by the daily grind. This attitude was seen by some of his peers and contemporaries as unfair and classist. They argued that Wilde was promoting a form of egotism among the wealthy classes and viewed his work as an affront to the struggles of those in poverty.

His views on progress also seem to ignore or even negate the opinions and experiences of those that did not live in his privileged world. He was quick to criticize those that did not fully embrace his goal of future progress, and often appeared to lack an understanding of the real-world implications of his ideas. This lack of empathy and understanding of the conditions faced by those on the other side of progress has caused much confusion and consternation.

Unwillingness to Shift Course

Despite the criticism that surrounded his works and worldview, Wilde rarely was willing to shift course. He was convinced of the correctness of his ideas and held firmly to his beliefs in the face of opposition. His rigid adherence to his personal philosophy has been seen by some as a sign of ego and stubbornness. Furthermore, Wilde’s unwillingness to shift course has led to a sense among some of his peers that he was “stuck in the past”, unwilling to find a way of reconciling his ideals with the realities of the modern age.

Furthermore, Wilde often had difficulty accepting the fact that the world, and society, had moved on without him. This can be seen in his works, where his characters often seek to remain rooted in ancient ways of thinking and living. This lack of understanding of the evolution of society has caused confusion and criticism of Wilde’s work. Critics have long argued that Wilde’s works do not acknowledge the changes that have taken place in the last few decades, suggesting that his writings are out of step with contemporary values.

Finally, Wilde’s unwillingness to adapt to the changing times has led to the considerable confusion and misunderstanding of his true beliefs. His beliefs in progress and reform were often seen as conflicting with his class-based worldview, leading to the impression that he did not truly believe in either to any real degree. Furthermore, Wilde’s unwillingness to engage in dialogue with those who disagreed with him has led to more accusations of intellectual and moral dishonesty.

The Enduring Legacy of Oscar Wilde

Despite the many criticisms leveled against Wilde, he still manages to be seen as an influential figure in modern society. His works have become required reading for many students in English and Literature classes, and his words have inspired generations of readers and authors. He is often cited as an early champion of free-thinking and reform, and his legacy of questioning authority and speaking out is still relevant today.

At the same time, Wilde’s legacy is often seen as a cautionary tale. His personal struggles and his unfortunate demise have led to a view of Wilde as a man who was ahead of his time but ultimately led himself to ruin. His writings and behavior can be interpreted as a reminder to all that too much deference to one’s own ideas and opinions can lead to disaster if one is not careful. Although this is often an undesired outcome, it cannot be denied that Wilde’s story demonstrates a powerful lesson that can still be learned from today.

Nevertheless, Wilde continues to enjoy a degree of popularity. His works continue to be studied and performed. As such, Wilde’s legacy continues to capture the interest of modern audiences and challenge them to reconsider their own values and beliefs. Whether one agrees with Wilde’s views on morality or not, his ability to stir debate and discussion, even today, is a testament to his enduring influence.

The Impact of Wilde’s Troubled Legacy

Wilde’s troubled legacy has had a lasting impact on modern society. He is often viewed as an example of the dangers of unchecked self-indulgence and intellectual pride. His disregard for authority and his unwillingness to consider other opinions, coupled with his uncompromising idealism, is often seen as a warning against the excesses of ego and arrogance.

Wilde’s legacy also shows that, while progress is undoubtedly desirable, it is still important to consider the impact of progress on those who may be left behind or excluded. Wilde’s writings, while progressive and confronting of

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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