Among the most accessible play writes of the last couple hundred years, Oscar Wilde was an individual that stood out among his peers. He was so intellectually gifted and ahead of his time that he is well-remembered and well regarded by many to this day. His witty commentary on society and people rivals, if it does not actually surpass in quality, that of Mark Twain. Below are some great ones.
- “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every 6 months.”
- “I am not young enough to know everything.”
- “The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.”
- “I think that God in creating man.”
- “It is better to have permanent income than to be fascinating.”
- “Music makes one feel so romantic- at least it always gets on one’s nerves- which is the same thing now adays.”
- “Women can discover anything except the obvious.”
- “The Niagara Falls is simply a vast amount of water going the wrong way over some unnecessary rocks; the sight of that waterfall must be one of the earliest and keenest disappointments in American married life.”
Oscar Wilde’s unique wit and impressive sense of humor is what little many people learn about the man. Few people seem to recognize the tragedy that befell him later in life. Oscar Wilde was gay and in the late 19th century that was shunned, and a serious crime. He was prosecuted in his forties for this “crime” the maximum sentence that he could be given would be two years hard labor. In the face of this charge Wilde stood up for gay rights before many had the courage to do so and spoke likely his most personal, important and underrated quote he ever made:
“The love that dare not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as “the love that dare not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.”
Wilde would be sentenced to the maximum sentence of two years of hard labor. The judge at his trial voiced his opinion that he wished there were a greater sentence he could assign Wilde. Wilde asked permission to say a few last words before being taken to fulfill his sentence, but his voice was drowned out by a chorus of “shame” from observers. The two years hard labor would result in him getting severely sick, and when he exiled himself to France he was so poor that he could not afford the operation that could save his life. Upon being told how expensive the operation would be, he responded:
- “I suppose I shall have to die beyond my means.
Oscar Wilde died at 46. He was more than just a man of wit, he is also a man of courage and we ought to remember what he said.