A vivid account of Oscar Wilde’s incarceration in Reading Gaol, incorporating a discussion of the ethics of imprisonment and reflections on contemporary social conditions.
As Wilde was led down from the Old Bailey on 25 May 1895, men were up on ladders painting out his name from the hoardings announcing his plays. Two years with hard labour; it was the harshest sentence the judge could give for the crime. The aim of society was clear; Oscar Wilde was to be obliterated. The Reading Standard did not quite join in the general condemnation: it called for, at the least, another trial. “With regard to general feeling, no doubt, the extreme sentence produced surprise…”
It was felt that Oscar Wilde was so utterly ruined by what had been undoubtedly proved apart from actual criminality, and the punishment he had undergone was so terrible for one in his position, that the ends of justice would be answered if he were allowed to take his departure to some foreign country and begin anew.
A Ladder for Mr. Oscar Wilde will appeal to all Oscar Wilde fans.
- A Ladder for Mr. Oscar Wilde
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