Impossible promise: the child and the androgyne in Thomas Kilroy's The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde and My Scandalous Life

José Lanters


In The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde and My Scandalous Life, the impossible ideals of perfect harmony between the sexes and perfect innocence are symbolically represented by the figures of the Androgyne and the child. In a process that illustrates the Wildean paradox that "each man kills the thing he loves," Oscar and Constance Wilde on the one hand, Alfred Douglas and Olive Custance on the other, fight each other over possession of their children, in that very act destroying both the ideal of androgynous harmony and that of childish innocence. Only by performing their worst nightmares, embracing the darkness within themselves, and acknowledging that innocence contains its own corruption, can the characters restore some form of equilibrium.


Wilde; Androgyny; Child Abuse; Innocence; Corruption


Copyright (c) 2010 José Lanters

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