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Theme of Love in Oscar Wilde’s Salome

Author: ZengJing
Tutor: ZhuYuanDe
School: Guangxi University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Love Egotism Auditory Metaphor Communication Theme
CLC: I561.073
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 5
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Abstract


Salome the play, composed by nineteenth century English Aesthete Oscar Wilde, has been arousing controversy ever since its publication. By its dramatic and exaggerated way of presenting aestheticism pursuit of form and sensual pleasure, Salome astonished the Victorian society. Yet aestheticism is not the only theme of the play---the imaginative sympathy---Wilde’s concept of love is implicit in the text and serves as a hidden theme.I will begin my thesis by analyzing how the playwright invented a few minor characters in order to create an exquisite character relationship in which all characters are in one-sided love. The six major characters indulge themselves in un-requited love or narcissism, showing symptoms of egotistic self-absorption. Furthermore, the majority of minor characters share this egotistic symptom by numbing themselves to others’ speech, hence the whole play is in an atmosphere of isolation and egotism in which characters have no real conversation with each other.Then I will turn to the visual and auditory descriptions in the text and demonstrate how vision symbolizes egotism while audition symbolizes conversation."Seeing" in the western philosophical tradition has served to be metaphorical for spectators, speculation and dualism between self and others. In contrast,"hearing" is metaphorical for immersion, experience and multiplicity since the eighteenth and nineteenth century philosophical discourse. To arouse readers’ visual and auditory imagination is not only a device for aesthetic purpose, moreover, it is embedded with deep thematic connotation---love and conversation represented by Christ.Finally, a list of Wilde’s works of which love is the central theme will be displayed, and I will argue that the Italian Renaissance poet Alighieri Dante’s concept of love had a deep influence on Wilde. A definition of Wilde’s concept of "love" is presented. The figure of Christ has been given a personality with ability to transcend paradoxes. According to Wilde, Christ is at once egotistic and sympathetic. Wilde recreated Christ in order to fulfill his ideal of love. The loving figure of Christ further proves the theme of love, since Salome sets the coming of Christ as narrative background.

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