De Profundis is a letter to Bosie, also known as Lord Alfred Douglas, written by the famous Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. The word De Profundis means expressing feelings from the bottom of the heart. The letter is written in 1897 and published in 1905, five years later Oscar’s death.
The letter is written during Wilde’s imprisonment. He recalls the good phase of his life spent with Bosie. He memorizes his luxurious lifestyle and his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. His extravagant lifestyle and attempt of gross indecency are the reason for his imprisonment.
Back then, the letter has been in an incomplete state. It has some autobiographical elements of Wilde’s life. The trials of Wilde and the Queensberry are mentioned here. Journalist Robert Ross, who is also a lover and a true friend of Lord Alfred, revises the letter and edits it. He publishes De Profundis in 1905 after Wilde’s death. The title of the letter is also given by Ross.
During his imprisonment, he suffers from tons of hardships. He goes through emotional isolation, mental downfall and physical pain. Nelson, the new administrator thinks writing to be more purgative for Wilde. But he is not allowed to send the letters.
Every time Wilde writes a letter, it’s been taken away from him. Nelson returns all his letters to him at the moment of release.
While Wilde is in prison, he develops mythological knowledge about Christianity and Jesus Christ. He grows great interest in the identification. He comments Jesus Christ to be a romantic artist.
De Profundis is a love letter, written to Lord Alfred which is a cry of intense emotions. It starts with “Dear Bosie” and ends with “Your Affectionate Friend”. Wilde has written this letter near to the end of his imprisonment.
Table of Contents
De Profundis synopsis
De Profundis is a work of Wilde while he has been in prison, isolated from his beloved, Bosie. This is a long letter of twenty pages. This letter has a literary style of prose writing. This letter is written to Bosie and has no intimation of formal letters. It is more of a personal letter.
There is a sudden change in the halfway of the letter of content and prose style. After half of the letter, Wilde finds his interest in spirituality and God.
The letter starts with the memories of Bosie and Wilde. Wilde calls up, the time spent with Bosie and their previous lifestyle. Wilde has had his first trial in 1895 for his gross indecency. This is the starting point of his downfall. Wilde starts noticing the changes in Lord Alfred’s behaviour.
It has impacted Wilde’s career. Most of Wilde’s time is consumed by fulfilling Bosie’s never-ending demands.
Wilde narrates the amount of expenses of their extravagant life. While Wilde is not able to fulfil Lord Alfred’s desires, Alfred goes mad with him. Lord Alfred is an ill-tempered person. Douglas becomes raged when Wilde suffers from sick. Their relationship is at sake when Wilde becomes ill.
Wilde puts the blame on himself for whatever has happened between the two. He repents the time spent with Alfred instead of focusing on his literary career. Wilde prioritizes Bosie over anything in the world. He regrets that he entertained all his demands instead of minding his own business.
But ultimately Wilde forgives such attitudes of Alfred. Although he recalls the images when he was sick and rejects him for his arrogance, finally.
At the halfway of the letter, there comes a twist to the style and content. Wilde has been suffering from every possible way. While he is facing hardships in prison, he develops an interest in spirituality. He finds peace in the ocean of sufferings. He grows more spiritual than ever before. He elaborates his loyalty to his art and literature.
He contradicts his previous situation with his present situation. It brings out the pain of his tragic downfall. He becomes more modest, realistic and practical about life. He comments “pleasure and success are deceits, while pain wears no mask.”
Wilde portrays the supremacy of social images in London. There are noticeably certain changes in him. He sympathetic to his inmates and cares for them.
De Profundis analysis
Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis is published in 1905, five years after his death in Paris. Wilde examines the manuscript of the journalist Robert Ross. Robert Ross is also a boyfriend and a faithful companion of Bosie. Robert Ross revises the letter and gives it the title “De Profundis”.
Robert Ross publishes a preface to the 1905 version of this particular work.
De Profundis is primarily an incomplete form of literature by Wilde. The story is based on, his autobiographical context. This a long letter consists of 50000 words written in twenty pages of the prison. The letter is written in a prose style. This work is considered to be a dramatic monologue.
Wilde has been suffered from isolation in his imprisonment. He has lost his connection with the outside world of the prison. This, probably, is the hardest time for Wilde since he could not connect his readers.
In his imprisonment, he was disconnected from his audiences, which was possibly his harshest punishment for any artist. His gross indecency punished him so hard.
Wilde criticizes the socialism of England and he never returns to England after his release from prison.
Kiberd commented, “Wilde follows Christ’s individualist theme of self-perfection into a testing new zone during his imprisonment. Wilde had always looked to test English society’s hypocrisies. He refused the opportunity to flee to France.”
De Profundis quotes
“Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every human being should be the realisation of some ideal, either in the mind of God or in the mind of man.”
“To live for others as a definite self-conscious aim was not his creed. It was not the basis of his creed. When he says, ‘Forgive your enemies,’ it is not for the sake of the enemy, but for one’s own sake that he says so, and because love is more beautiful than hate.”
“I have a right to share in sorrow, and he who can look at the loveliness of the world and share its sorrow, and realise something of the wonder of both, is in immediate contact with divine things and has got as near to God’s secret as anyone can get.”
De Profundis questions and answers
Who wrote De Profundis?
Famous English author Oscar Wilde wrote De Profundis.
When did Oscar Wilde write De Profundis?
Oscar Wilde wrote De Profundis during his imprisonment. It was published in 1905.
How did Oscar Wilde die?
Oscar Wilde died On 30th November 1900.
When did Oscar Wilde meet Lord Alfred Douglas?
Oscar Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas in June 1891.
De Profundis meaning.
A heartfelt cry of appeal expressing deep feelings of sorrow or anguish.