The Trial of the Sensational Oscar Wilde

1357 Words Jul 10th, 2018 6 Pages
The Trial of the Sensational Oscar Wilde

Ed Cohen's Talk on the Wilde Side discusses the trial of Oscar Wilde in 1895. Cohen explores the lack of legal transcripts of the case which relies on newspaper press reports and accounts to document this lawsuit. His investigations into the clarity of the newspaper accounts found that they "were themselves highly mediated stories whose narrative structures organized and gave meaningful shapes to the events they purported to accurately represent" (4). In the second part of his book, Cohen discusses Oscar Wilde's trial and its importance, the results of the fictionalized newspaper accounts of the proceedings, as well as the role of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray in the legal
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This characterized Wilde as the epitome of effeminacy. He is also described as disrespectful of the law and its proceedings. On the other hand, the Marquis of Queensberry is depicted as the model of masculinity as well as "a profligate and a degenerate aristocrat" (138). These characterizations did wonders for the Marquis's defense.

The newspapers suffered a setback that they actually ended up using to their benefit. The word "sodomy," although used in the courtroom, was deemed "unrespectable" and could not appear in the newspapers that told of the legal proceedings. The newspapers proceeded to describe the allegation in creative ways that actually incriminated Wilde. "They negatively characterized Wilde's behavior as 'immoral,' 'immodest,' 'unnatural,' 'improper,' 'indecent,' 'unrespectable,' 'disreputable,' etc., in order to avoid having to specify positively the actual sexual acts named in Queensberry's defense" (144). These negative terms helped characterize Wilde as a bad man and as a criminal. The papers also named the crime in "acceptable" ways calling it "the gravest of all offenses" (148). This "news" helped portray Wilde not only as a deviant, but as the guilty party in the case. The newspapers not only helped start this trial inadvertently through the Scots Observer article, but helped paint Oscar Wilde as the criminal and the Marquis of

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