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By Oscar Wilde From The Ballad Of Reading Goal

From The Ballard Of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde. He . did not wear his scarlet coat,.   For blood and wine are red,. And blood and wine were on his hands.   When they found him with the dead,. The poor dead woman whom he loved,.

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By Oscar Wilde From The Ballad Of Reading Goal

Presentation on theme: "By Oscar Wilde From The Ballad Of Reading Goal"— Presentation transcript:


By Oscar Wilde

From The Ballad Of Reading GoalSlide2

From The Ballard Of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde


did not wear his scarlet coat,

  For blood and wine are red,And blood and wine were on his hands  When they found him with the dead,The poor dead woman whom he loved,  And murdered in her bed.He walked amongst the Trial Men  In a suit of shabby grey;A cricket cap was on his head,  And his step seemed light and gay;But I never saw a man who looked  So wistfully at the day.I never saw a man who looked  With such a wistful eyeUpon that little tent of blue  Which prisoners call the sky,And at every drifting cloud that went  With sails of silver by.I walked, with other souls in pain,  Within another ring,And was wondering if the man had done  A great or little thing,When a voice behind me whispered low,  "That fellows got to swing.“Dear Christ! the very prison walls  Suddenly seemed to reel,And the sky above my head became  Like a casque of scorching steel;And, though I was a soul in pain,  My pain I could not feel.I only knew what hunted thought  Quickened his step, and whyHe looked upon the garish day

 With such a wistful eye;

The man had killed the thing he loved

  And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves

  By each let this be heard,

Some do it with a bitter look,

  Some with a flattering word,

The coward does it with a kiss,

  The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,

  And some when they are old;

Some strangle with the hands of Lust,

  Some with the hands of Gold:

The kindest use a knife, because

  The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,

  Some sell, and others buy;

Some do the deed with many tears,

  And some without a sigh:

For each man kills the thing he loves,

  Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame

  On a day of dark disgrace,

Nor have a noose about his neck,

  Nor a cloth upon his face,

Nor drop feet foremost through the floor

  Into an empty placeSlide3


Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde

 was born on 16 October .He was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams plays and the circumstances of his imprisonment.

Social background connecting to the poem On 18 February 1895 Oscar Wilde initiated a private prosecution against Queensberry, who was arrested on a charge of criminal libel: Queensberry's note amounted to a public accusation that Wilde had committed a felony.  Wilde's association with blackmailers and male prostitutes, cross-dressers and homosexual brothels was recorded. Wilde dropped the prosecution and Queensberry was found not guilty, but the court declared Queensbury's accusation that Wilde was "posing as a Sodomite" justified. Wilde was arrested for "gross indecency" . Wilde was released on 19 May 1897, and though his health had suffered greatly, he had a feeling of spiritual renewal. Wilde spent mid-1897 with Robert Ross in Berneval-le-Grand, where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol. By 25 November Wilde had developed cerebral meningitis. Robbie Ross arrived on 29 November and sent for a priest, and Wilde was conditionally baptized into the Catholic Church by Fr Cuthbert Dunne, a Passionist priest from Dublin. He later died on 30 November 1900 from the cerebral meningitis. Slide4


The extract of the poem starts off narrating about a man who received a death penalty for killing his wife, and the wife is described as “ the poor dead woman whom he loved, and was murdered in her bed”.

One of Wilde’s inmates in Jail was Charles Thomas Wooldridge who had been a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. He was convicted of cutting the throat of his wife, Laura Ellen. He was only aged 30 when executed. Maybe he is the one being talked about?The poem is also about how everyone has killed something they love at some point in life and how we have different ways of doing it. However not all of us are punished for it.The poem is written in 1st person perspective and Wilde's usage of the word "I" in some of the stanzas indicates that Wilde is the clearly defined narrator. Slide5

Structure and point of view

The extract consists of 10 stanzas and there is a certain point were the poem shifts from one perspective to another (evident in the stanzas).

The first 6 stanzas only focus on the prisoner concerned .In these stanzas Wilde shows us the effect that imprisonment has on his fellow prisoner when he describes the prisoner as

“a man who looked so wistful at the day” and “ his step seemed light and gay”. The prisoner is hopeful (I will explain a little on that later)and his walk conveys a sense of pain and suffering. Wilde also gives a description of the horrible conditions of prison and the harshness of the punishment that is issued by the society to those who sin when he says “ the sky above my head became like a scotching steel” .In the last 4 stanzas of the poem wilde takes a far wider perspective that reflects the nature of men (all humans?) in general, who all kill “the thing they love” but who do not all have to die and how the society deals with such actions. It seems as if in the last 4 stanzas, Wilde is stating that we all kill something we love however the society evaluates our crimes by degree and those whom are found more guilty are given a greater punishment while the rest of us continue living in freedom. For example “ the coward does it with a kiss” (killing love by cheating ) but does not get a life sentence in prison. Does that make sense to u? well I hope it does. Slide6

Themes and ideas

Love ,Pain

Social Injustice , laws

Redemption, Freewill Well the list is quite long depending on how u interpret the poem however I'm just going to focus on just a few ideas.(and im not going to do a line by line analysis coz I the poem is quite long. )Slide7

Themes and ideas- love and pain

In the opening stanza, the prisoner did not kill his wife in a street or some random parking lot but in their own bed with shows the intimacy of the murder (maybe he killed her out of passion?)and that is how the idea of love is first introduced from the very stanza as Wilde states that “ each man kills the thing he loves”. However the idea of love is quite spread-out as its not only focusing on the romantic love but rather talking about the


we love and that could range from a human to a plant or even a cup. The idea of pain come from the suffering and hurting that a person feels after losing something/ someone that you love and also knowing that YOU are the one killed it. Or I could be the pain of the punishment you receive for killing what you love. Slide8

Themes and ideas – society, religion and law

One of the poem’s main themes is focused on society. this idea is rather divided into two parts. The first focus is on the cruelty of the murderer's crime, showing how

human nature is destructive towards one another specially the people or things we love and cherish the most. This also shows our lack of respect for love in most of us. This can be interpreted from the line “ yet each man kills the thing he loved” ( killing the thing u love, that’s just straight-up cruel)The second focus is on the greater cruelty of the punishment our society gives to those who have sinned. The line “ that fellow’s got to swing” shows an awful reflection on a society that claims to uphold Christian virtues, yet punishes some men harshly for their deeds and further denies them even the small benefit of forgiveness. And also the line “yet each man does not die” shows that the society weighs our crimes and issue death penalties to those who they judge as murders (the society is killing a man because he killed his wife. They are just doing exactly what he did and that's killing!! So how is the law being fair?) anyway …. Wilde is merely pointing out that the self-righteousness of human justice is questionable and this shows us that clearly has a low opinion of the prison system's as well as the society’s judgement. Slide9

themes and ideas –redemption


r reading the poem several times i have picked up on a faint sense of hope f

rom Wilde’s narration of the prisoners mood and it got me thinking ‘what makes an imprisoned man look up at the sky “with a wistful eye” with a step that “seemed so light and gay”? ‘Well the first thing that came into mind was the hope for redemption!  everyone needs redemption for something .He has committed a sin and the society deprived him of his freewill by imprisoning him but he hasn’t stopped hoping for redemption even when he is on his way to his death.Slide10

Imagery and symbolism

The usage of the words

“blood” and “wine”

in the first stanza creates a vivid imagery that shows the brutality of our distractive human nature (how the involvement of alcohol mostly ends up in a bloody situation?)Wilde gives us a very vivid descriptive of the prison, how it is quite dull and un-soothing (doesn’t feel anything like home because of its lack of colour) and he mentions the sky as a “tent” which just gives us a further image of a confined space and freedom is out of reach.The image of the prison is a metaphor of the society. We live in a society with judges, and he was condemned just for being different from his time So, in that way, the prison could symbolize the society which imprisoned us, most of a society which imprisons those who do not follow the prescripted rules.Slide11


The tone that Wilde uses in the poem is one of sympathy (at first) when he writes about the prisoner but it later changes into one of disappointment? despise? (well I have forgotten the word I wanted so I'm not quite sure on what to say) but the tone definitely changes as the poem progresses as his view turns to the laws and as he looks down on society judgement

Well I don’t have much time to write more stuff but I hope this helps you with the poem.

By Panashe