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An Ecocritical Analysis of Oscar Wilde’s Works

Author LiuHongXia
Tutor YaoJunWei
School Nanjing Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Oscar Wilde ecocriticism nature environment
Type Master's thesis
Year 2006
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Ecocriticism is one of schools of literary criticism emerging in the 60s and 70s of the twentieth century in response to the unprecedented contemporary ecological crisis. It focuses on the analysis of the role of nature presented in literary works and the relationship between human beings and the physical world. An ecocritical analysis of Oscar Wilde’s works will shed light on this mythic writer. Wilde holds multi-layered views on nature. He exhorts people to respect all living things; he is human-centered in dismissing nature as being indifferent to man and he even exhibits anti-nature tendency in his speech about the deficiencies of nature. He believes that artists reshape nature consciously and can create a self-sufficient world. In Wilde’s works he subverts the binary opposition between nature and culture by showing that their difference is subtle. Wilde also presents environment in his voluminous works. He employs traditional pastoral and shows the comparison between countryside and city, forest and court. He depicts Japan, the oriental country, as an art "utopia" where he finds the fulfillment of his aesthetic ideal. He presents London in many ways. In his poems he beautifies its landscape, in his novel and short stories he exhibits the tension between the impersonal city and its isolated people. He also subtly mentions homosexual routes in London and relates the metropolis to homosexuals. His two works published after his imprisonment display prisoners’ anxiety after losing contact with nature and their appeal to nature for comfort. His loss of a slice of environment to fit in explains to certain extent why he finds writing impossible in his last years.

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