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Analysis of Oscar Wildes poem, The Ballad of the Reading Gaol.

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From the Ballad of the Reading Gaol-An analysis The world we live in is neither as perfect or just as we perceive it as: it is brutal and pitiless and does not even let the dead rest in peace and the dying even less so. A similar thought is expressed in Oscar Wilde's poem, "The Ballad of the Reading Gaol". Wilde, who was himself imprisoned for some time, relates the story of a man who is sentenced to death by hanging, but who comes to terms with his own death. Wilde, in his poem might be trying to convey many things: harshness of the society that is judging them, murder that is not always premeditated, but gets punished severely nevertheless, overbearing love that changes and kills the things that every man loves, the harsh and painful lives of prisoners in prison. ...read more.


Thus, Wilde retains the form of the poem as a ballad without actually singling out refrains. The line "I never saw a man who looked with such a wistful eye" or its variants seem two of the lines that are repeated throughout the poem. "Yet each man kills the thing he loves" seems to be another. These repetitions serve to re-emphasize the facts again and again and add something more to that thought as well. The repetitions are interconnected and can be seen as the continuations of the thought expressed in the previous repetition. For example, in the third stanza, Wilde writes, "And at every drifting cloud that went with sails of silver by". ...read more.


The seventh, eighth and ninth lines of canto I are particularly heavy in antitheses, and lists out the ways a man can kill the things he loves. The poem is written predominantly in iambic tetrameter. The exceptions to this bring attention to the lines. The seventh, eighth and ninth stanzas mostly have lines starting with a trochee, therefore calling attention to the things that have been done. This makes it seem more like listing out the things that the men do. There is also use of light and color imagery in the poem when the color "red" is highlighted and when the day is described to be "garish". "The Ballad of the Reading Gaol" is a powerful, beautiful poem. We can understand Wilde's and all the prisoner's suffering through his words. ...read more.

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