Religion and mythology in Oscar Wilde's poem "The Sphinx"

GRIN Verlag, 25.01.2008 - 25 Seiten
Seminar paper from the year 2005 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 1,0, LMU Munich (Department für Anglistik und Amerikanistik), course: Oscar Wilde, 28 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: Introduction A poet is sitting in his room beside a Sphinx. Within the poem the Sphinx forms his main focus of interest, his whole attention belongs to her: a cheap souvenir from some street corner. But inside of the poet’s room the Sphinx no longer remains a little piece of stone but, right in front of his eyes, becomes a real-life Sphinx – the age-old female demon of death, who besieged the city of Thebes as a punishment for the king of Thebes who introduced homosexual love into Greek culture and thus incured Hera’s hatred. The Sphinx, one of Oscar Wilde’s most enchanting poems, is woven out of a net of various mythological beliefs and religious ideas. Wilde invokes a hotch-potch of varying creatures, who convey a magical atmosphere of ancient grandeur. In order to understand the poem one has to get to know the concepts that stand behind the various mythical creatures, gods and heroes. Therefore I will explain to which mythologies Wilde relates to and how they refer to each other. In this connection the time of Oscar Wilde has to be taken into consideration, too: Victorianism, with its crumbling of old values and conquering of new worlds; the period of decadence; the period of aestheticism. I would like to show some of the multitude of possible accesses, e.g. the identification of the Sphinx with the figure of the femme fatale; the personification of the Sphinx as the temptations and desires of the poet respectively The Sphinx as a metaphor for the loss of Christian faith in Victorian culture.

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