The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Alas!- Moralism and Conflicting Ideas in Helas! and The Ballad of Reading Gaol 12th Grade

Oscar Wilde hails from the Victorian generation, a set of writers known for its dogmas and oppression. In many of his works, he negates these austere ideas with his own particular brand of humour; however, Helas! and The Ballad of Reading Gaol are different. Unlike much Oscar Wilde's irreverent output as a playwright or a composer of witticisms, poems like Helas! and The Ballad of Reading Gaol take a moralistic turn, challenging conventional notions of morality. Most of his works are lighthearted and satirical in nature, but these two poems confront the morality of human actions. Sometimes they do so in very paradoxical ways. It is perhaps for this reason that one may find it much easier to put these two poems in the Victorian canon, for they are much more representative of that time.

Helas! is a poem by Oscar Wilde that deals with the idea of discontentment and decadence. It questions the basis of human actions and concludes that for very little pleasures, we lose our hold on the greater truth of life. He says that he has succumbed to passion so often that his soul has become like a "stringed lute". This line marks the beginning of a contemplative narrative that questions human nature as well as the human tendency to sacrifice...

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