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Imprisonment of Oscar Wilde

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Initially Wilde was imprisoned in Pentonville & was later shifted to Wandsworth prison in London. During those times, imprisonment was very harsh with excess labor.

Though Wilde was a reputed man, he was not allowed any special privileges while his stay at either of the prisons. During November, he was forced to attend Chapel, despite his illness. As a result he collapsed bursting his right ear drum. It is believed that the injury caused to his ear later contributed as a cause to his death.

Once, Richard B. Haldane, a reformer, visited Wilde. After the visit Wilde was transformed to HM’s Prison, Reading. The town of Reading was familiar to Wilde as he had spent some time during his good days there. But, the transfer served as the lowest point of incarceration for him as he was jeere d & spat at by a crowd at the platform.

There he was known as prisoner C.3.3. Initially he was even denied access to a pen & paper. During his imprisonment, he read The Holy Bible, books of great authors like Dante, Cardinal Newman & Saint Augustine.

Around March 1897, Wilde wrote a long letter, approximately 50000 words, to Lord Alfred Douglas. But again was disallowed to send the letter, though he was allowed to take the letter along with him post his release from the prison. In the letter, Wilde had mentioned his contempt towards Douglas who had made rude remarks during Wilde’s illness. He alleged Wilde to be vain & arrogant.

After his release from prison, Wilde attained a feeling of redemption. He understood the importance of the experience that he attained during his imprisonment.

Though the stay was harsh, the experience & the learning was far more valuable. In 1905, his manuscripts were published partially under the title De Profoundis. Later, in 1962, correct & complete version of the manuscripts was published under the title The Letters of Oscar Wilde.

Wilde’s learning can be understood from the lines written by him: I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world… And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived.

My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom.

By FW Editor


Tags: writer, poet, prison



Category: Celebrities  - ( Celebrities Archive)

Date Added: 12 April '10


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