The Ballad of Reading Gaol Background

The Ballad of Reading Gaol Background

The Ballad of Reading Goal was among the last written works of Oscar Wilde. The poem was written after two years after Oscar Wilde was released from prison and the poem focuses on the execution of one of the prison inmate who was in the same prison as Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde was imprisoned because of his homosexual relationship with the son of an influential man and the time spend in prison affected his life greatly.

After Oscar Wilde was released in 1897, he soon fled to Paris where he assumed a new name and started writing the poem almost immediately. The poem was revised a couple of times and enlarged before it was published in October.

The ballad consists of 109 stanzas and is divided into 6 parts. The poem starts by focusing only on one man, a person convicted for murdering his wife and sentenced to death and then slowly starts to describe the living conditions of the prisoners. The contrast between the free people who live outside the prison and the inmates is highlighted by Oscar Wilde in his poem.

After his time spent in prison, Oscar Wilde never returned to England again. He died in Paris in 1900, lonely and the shell of the man he once was, but still appreciated his writing.

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