Oscar Wilde is a well known Irish poet, playwright, and novelist in the early 1890s. He becomes one of the famous playwrights later.
He often feels uneasy with the socio-political standards of the Victorian age because of the kind of intelligence, humour and unconventional state of life he has. He slips into a trial against him in 1895 because the news of his relationship with a British aristocrat was disseminated.
What were the trials of Oscar Wilde about?
Wilde attempts the act of gross indecency in 1895 but he does not agree with the charge of gross indecency. While Wilde puts on the trial his friends advised Wilde to escape to France and start writing again. Wilde gathers courage and decides to accept the trial.
During the trial at the court, Wilde is bombarded with questions about his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas and homosexuality.
As evidence of Wilde’s homosexuality, the servants of the hotel, where Wilde used to stay and a housekeeper have acclaimed that they had seen young men in Wilde’s bed.
The trial ends without a judgement. Wilde is retried again after three weeks. This time, Wilde is accused of offensive indecency and punished with two years of hard labour.
Oscar Wilde Trials film
The Trials of Oscar Wilde also known as The Man with the Green Carnation and The Green Carnation is a British film. This film is based on the following criminal cases consisting of Oscar Wilde and the Marquees of Queensberry. The film was created by Warwick Films.
It was written by Allen and Ken Hughes, directed by Hughes. The screenplay was directed, Ken Hughes and Montgomery Hyde and released by United Artists.
It features Peter Finch as Oscar Wilde, John Fraser as Lord Alfred Douglas, Lionel Jeffries as Queensberry, James Mason, Nigel Patrick.
The Trials of Oscar Wilde deviance morality and late-Victorian society
In 1895, Old Bailey, the main courthouse in London, has never presented a show such as the three trials of Wilde. It has so much fascinated England and the literary world. It celebrates witty dialogues, political intrigues, interesting twists and concerns about arts and morality.
Oscar Wilde comes to Old Bailey, before four years in the summer of 1891. Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas meet at a tea party. In a very short time, they both become extremely close to each other. A major literary figure Douglas is greatly influenced by the works of Wilde. Wilde shows his interest to Lord Alfred and showers him with gifts and writes a sonnet for him.
The problem starts when Mr Wood finds out the letters written by Wilde to Douglas. Wilde later bribes Mr Wood to return the letters.
Wilde’s downfall comes because of the father of Alfred Douglas, John Douglas, the Marquees of Queensberry. John Douglas is an arrogant, ill-tempered, eccentric and even mentally imbalanced Scottish nobleman.
To impress Queensberry Wilde presents him so many cigars and bottles of liquor. By early 1894 Queensberry sees Wilde as a homosexual and wants his son to stay away from him. Queensberry becomes desperate to end their relationship.
About a week before trial, Wilde comes back to London. Wilde’s friends, George Bernhard Shaw and Frank Harris advise him to flee to France from London and continue his writing.
On 3rd April 1895, the first trial of Oscar Wilde begins at Old Bailey. After a short introduction of the evidence from Sidney Wright, Wilde took the stand. He starts lying about his age. He states that he is thirty-nine years old but he is actually forty-one years old. Then Wilde describes the harassment which Queensberry did to him.
After recess Carson starts questioning about his relationships which made him very uncomfortable. Carson shows the presents that Wilde gave to men. Carson, to defend Queensberry, calls the young men to the witness box with whom Wilde has sexual relationships. The atmosphere in the courtroom becomes stressful. Edward Clarke learns that Wilde is at risk of being prosecuted himself.
After the trial, Edward Clarke meets with Wilde. Clarke requests Wilde to allow him to withdraw the prosecution and Wilde agrees. The very next morning Clarke announces the withdrawal of the libel prosecution.
Wilde meets Douglas and his old friend Robert Ross at the Cadogan Hotel. Wilde is uncertain between staying in London and fleeing To France.
Now there comes a twist. Wilde is not the prosecutor but a defendant. Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor both are the procurers of young men. They have faced twenty-five counts of gross indecencies in total.
It was the fourth day of trial when Wilde takes the stand and his arrogance of the first trial has vanished by now. He gently answers all the questions and denies the allegations raised against him.
Wilde gets released on a bail on 7th May and he enjoys three weeks of releasing his second criminal trial.
The Government has decided that Wilde will definitely be announced as a convict. Prime Minister Archibald Primrose, Earl of Roseberry is under suspicion of having a homosexual affair with Francis Douglas.
It is interestingly notable that during the period of Wilde’s conviction, Roseberry suffered from serious depression and insomnia. When Wilde gets released Roseberry’s health all of a sudden gets improved.
Wilde’s second trial is handled by England’s best prosecutor, Solicitor-General Frank Lockwood. The evidence against Wilde that he was engaged in sexual activities with young men is becoming forcefully apparent.
After over three hours, the jury announces its judgment. Everyone in the courtroom mocks him and laughed at his homosexuality.
Wilde’s trials have affected people greatly. Many same-sex relationships have been seen as innocent before the Wilde trials.
After the trials of Wilde people become more bitter and less tolerant towards homosexuals. There was a pity for the people who have been engaged in homosexual love but after the trial homosexuals are considered to be criminals.
After the Wilde trials, every male relationship comes under suspicion and the arts and homosexuality become linked in the minds of the public. People with same-sex relationships grow anxious, concerned about doing anything that can be judged as indecency.
The Wilde trials have good side also. It approaches the public to begin to associate art with homosexuality.
Wilde spends two years in imprisonment and the last eighteen months is spent at Reading Gaol.
After his release, he travels to Europe to catch up with Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde terms this reunion as “psychologically inevitable.” From there they travel to Naples but they have a bitter experience there.
One particular information about the Wilde trials deserves to be mention. Wilde’s trials, prosecutions for consensual homosexuality in England are very uncommon at the end of the nineteenth century. Wilde has had sex with a huge amount of young male prostitutes and this has offended the Victorian society greatly.
Wilde is prosecuted because he is involved in the participation in an indiscreet prostitution ring. Wilde has merely had any relationships with the same age person or men of his own class.
In England, it is convinced to be the, darker days for homosexual men of the late nineteenth century. But social attitudes keep changing with time. Private consensual acts involving adults, including same-sex sodomy, gets legalized in England In 1967, after almost seven decades of Wilde’s trials.