The "Unholy" Trinity: Homoeroticism, Catholicism, and Oscar Wilde
Calangian, Jill G.
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CitationCalangian, Jill G. 2019. The "Unholy" Trinity: Homoeroticism, Catholicism, and Oscar Wilde. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis paper examines two bodies of work by Oscar Wilde deemed antithetical to one another by literary scholars. Through a comparative analysis of The Picture of Dorian Gray, said to represent Wilde’s homosexuality, and De Profundis, said to represent his spirituality, I endeavor to reconcile Wilde’s seemingly opposing halves and illuminate the truth of his identity. I hypothesize that The Picture of Dorian Gray and De Profundis do not represent conflicting versions of Wilde, but rather, serve as a continuum that charts Wilde’s course as he grapples with his sexuality and relationship to Catholicism. Oscar Wilde’s spiritual sincerity and authenticity of the self that he presents in these two works have long been questioned and debated. The questions I investigate are: How can Wilde’s spiritual transformation be read as sincere in the face of Wilde’s paradoxical language? Also, what does the language specific to Catholicism and homosexuality in these texts reveal about Wilde’s identity, writing, and his relationships to Christ and beautiful young men? I intend to exhibit that the taboo nature of Catholicism juxtaposed with the taboo nature of homosexuality in late-Victorian England establish a commonality and congruity within two texts often seen as contradictory. Common language enables Wilde to express his sexuality through the veils of Catholicism and paradox; this semi-concealed revelation of self conveys neither shame nor unease, but the sincerity, suffering, and beauty intrinsic to Wilde’s Catholic and homosexual experiences. This thesis finds that body and soul; sincerity and paradox; religion and sexuality cannot be separated, as the fragments that comprise Wilde’s identity best reveal his truth when viewed as interlocking puzzle pieces.
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