The Attitudes of Men and Women

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As representatives of that type of literature, we have Oscar Wildes’s first novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and Henry James’ The Turning of the Screw both of which contain themes of hidden sexuality and criticize the manner in which society treats sex. James suggests that sex is an unmentionable topic in society while Wilde said that homosexuality is a love that dares not speak its name (McKenna, 2006). In fact, beyond these two authors, there are several other related examples of writers using their craft to show the awkward and extremely uncomfortable relations that existed between society and sexuality during the Victorian era. In essence, the literature of the time certainly shows that many artists and thinkers working at the time were entirely dissatisfied with the way society was progressing (Beckson, 1979). To better understand the significance of the two primary works under consideration, it would be ideal to examine them individually and link them to sexuality in the Victorian age.An understanding of the Picture of Dorian Grey has to be taken in view of the life lived by Wilde and the times he was living in. The conservatism of society at the time and the repressive attitudes expressed in the social order were the hallmarks of how individuals were expected to behave in social scenarios. For instance, pursuing and finding a good husband was seen as the only social duty of a lady while professional circles were limited to men and many young people had to actively avoid getting married as per the dictates of their parents. Men who chose not to get married or women who selected the single life were seen with suspicion and were largely considered social outsiders (Beckson, 1979).Wilde himself was married to Constance Lloyd but his homosexual tendencies remained quite obvious to those who knew him well. His literary works were not well accepted as far as his poetry was concerned but the social commentarycontained within his plays was much appreciated (McKenna, 2006).