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Thread: why was Oscar Wilde protestant?

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    why was Oscar Wilde protestant?

    I'm writing a term paper on Oscar Wilde, and for some reason I'm really struggling with this question. He's Irish, born to Irish nationalist parents living in Dublin, not Ulster. Although his mother had some brief dalliances with Catholicism, it seems to me that his father was pretty strongly Protestant. How did that come about? I apologize if this is a rediculous question...

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    Protestestant

    Hi , I see that nobody replied to your question so far. I have never thought much about why Oscar was Protestant because i kind of always assumed that he couldn't be Catholic, so the only option was Protestant. I just always remember that he said he would like to DIE Catholic, yes, that would be fine, BUT living the way Catholic church would ask one to live was NOT GOOD for Oscar. Think about his believes, and sexual relationships, and all....
    I am not helping you much, BUT I'd like to encourage you to look for things Oscar himself said about his faith and being NOT Catholic.

    Oona

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    your question seems to assume Oscar Wilde would be catholic just because he's Irish. This is a false assumption, his background was Anglo Irish which would mean he would almost definataly be a member of the Protestant Church of Ireland.

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    Oscar Wilde was Anglo-Irish. i.e. a descendent of the English and Welsh ruling class that emigrated there. Their religion was usually Church of Ireland, the Irish branch of the Church of England, or the Episcopalian church in America (so I believe). They are not the same people as the Scotch-Irish protestants in the north. I get the impression they are largely Presbyterians (a sterner version of Protestantism). I am not entirely sure about that as my grandfather was from Ulster and he was Church of Ireland, as is an aunt.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    I read Oscar Wilde converted to Catholicism on his death bed. Having recently read De Profundis, I am not entirely surprised. I do not know if the Church of Ireland had de-established itself by then. but Anglicism was the state religion in England, and the state had not treated him very kindly. Protestantism was sceptical to what it saw as myths and artistic embellishments of Catholicism, but Oscar Wilde was a story teller who loved art. Part of De Profundis was a discussion of Jesus Christ of the Gospels as an artistic figure, and there was quite a b it on art and beauty and sorrow and suffering. It did not sound very Protestant to me. Some of his short stories, for example, The Little Prince, seemed like Christian analogies to me, although I have not read the story for decades. I was reminded of the story of St Christopher. Then all the stories of the saints of the early Christian martyrs are more highjy revered in Catholicism than Anglicanism. Oscar Wilde wrote that he managed to get a Greek New Testament while in prison, as he hoped to read Jesus' actual words. Catholic masses were conducted in Latin, not ancient Greek, but still it's a classical language.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    kev67

    I had not read De Profundis for some time, but returned to it for any clues as to the argument you make of Wilde’s potential to convert to Catholicism on his death bed.

    I think the following extracts are of some interest:

    “Religion does not help me. The faith that others give to what is unseen, I give to what one can touch, and look at.” Quite emphatic here and a touch of St Thomas. If I cannot see it and touch it, then I’m not convinced; whatever the respective creed.

    “He who is in a state of rebellion cannot receive grace.” This comes later and seems to be a softening of the above position. Also, the concept of being “in a state of grace,” is very much a Catholic thing, especially when one is dying.

    “One cannot but be grateful that the supreme office of the Church should be the playing of the tragedy without the shedding of blood: the mystical presentation, by means of dialogue and costume and gesture even, of the Passion of her Lord; and it is always a source of pleasure and awe to me to remember that the ultimate survival of the Greek chorus, lost elsewhere to art, is to be found in the servitor answering the priest at Mass.” This last piece I think very much points to Wilde’s appreciation and possible conversion to Catholicism. His artistic nature as you have already noted, would have been drawn by the richness of that religion: the incense, ritual, vestments and being conducted in Latin at that time.

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