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Stud Engl Lit. 2011;51(4):883-903.

Morality's ugly implications in Oscar Wilde's fairy tales.


In Oscar Wilde's two volumes of fairy tales, "The Happy Prince" and Other Tales (1888) and A House of Pomegranates (1891), many central characters meet with premature death or physical disfigurement after learning a bourgeois moral lesson. In an attempt to explain this unconventional phenomenon in the fairy tale tradition, this essay examines Wilde's stories through the lens of his aesthetic ideology and demonstrates how the superficial morality of the Victorian bourgeoisie corrodes each tale's aesthetic integrity, causing the characters to either deny morality outright, assume the guise of Christian philanthropy, or die as the result of their moral reformation.

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