The Portrait of Mr. W. H.
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Oscar Wilde's Imaginary "Portrait of Mr. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE. Additional Information. Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.
Contact Contact Us Help. Wilde does love to include very handsome young men in his books, and these young men occasionally descend into madness and despair. Wilde constructs his young men in crisis in much the same way as the spectacle of the damsel in distress is constructed. When we are exploring the similarities between these two stories penned by Oscar Wilde there is also the use of a portrait as representative of a dangerous idea; for Dorian, it is eternal youth and beauty, for Cyril, it is the identity of Mr W.
Suicide comes up a fair bit, as does the idea of the muse.
Oscar Wilde's other portrait
We hear the story from an unnamed narrator who tells us of a visit he has with his friend Erskine. Shakespeare was deeply in love with the young man and the sonnets express his desire, dismay and obsession. Cyril then passed it off to his friend Erskine as the genuine article. Harsh words are exchanged and after Erskine leaves, Cyril shoots himself, leaving a note to the effect that he dies for the cause of advocating the Willie Hughes theory as the secret to the sonnets. But Erskine did not continue the work of Cyril or explain the motive behind his suicide to the public or indeed the Graham family.
There is a bit of a row and our narrator goes off in a huff to prove the theory of Willie Hughes. He examines the sonnets over and over again, working from the assumption that the eponymous Willie Hughes was a flesh and blood man, almost exactly as Cyril has envisioned him. Armed only with passion and circular reasoning our narrator writes was we must assume is one of the greatest pieces of persuasive writing, explaining to Erskine why the Willie Hughes theory is the only viable theory as to the identity of Mr W.
Erskine, renewed in his faith in Willie Hughes, begins his frantic search for definitive proof to show the world of the truth of the Willie Hughes theory. By this stage Our Narrator has lost interest and looks back on his impassioned theorizing, seeing its flaws. He no longer sees the truth in the Willie Hughes theory and desperately tries to dissuade his friend.
Time passes and Our Narrator finally gets word from Erskine in the form of a suicide letter. Erskine says that by the time Our Narrator reads this he will have died for the cause of the Willie Hughes theory. Discover how to transform your home. Cleaning doesn't have to be that job you dread. Not when Mrs Hinch is here to show you her sparkly ways!
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About The Portrait of Mr W.H.
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Short Stories: The Portrait of Mr. W. H. by Oscar Wilde
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