De Profundis | Study Guide

Oscar Wilde

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De Profundis | Key Figure Analysis

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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde became famous as one of Britain's leading writers of the late 19th century. He achieved phenomenal popular success for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) and notable dramatic works like Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). At the same time, critics complained that Wilde's works went against Victorian-era moral values. Wilde also flirted with public scandal by dressing and behaving flamboyantly and by having indiscreet relationships with men including Lord Alfred Douglas (1870–1945). Douglas's father disapproved of Wilde's relationship with his son and a legal case began. Wilde was convicted of gross indecency for having a relationship with Douglas and was imprisoned for two years (1895–97). He wrote the long letter titled "De Profundis" to Douglas while serving his sentence.

Bosie

"De Profundis" presents Bosie as a vain, reckless, and uncaring person. He spent large sums of Wilde's money on frivolous expenses like fancy meals, expensive hotels, and gambling. He thrives on scandal and even encouraged Wilde to sue Bosie's father for libel which led to Wilde's conviction for gross indecency. Since Wilde has been in prison, Bosie has not shown great or authentic concern for Wilde.

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