Prison RealizationsThroughout this semester, and the multiple readings covered, a number of different prison scenes have been encountered. In many cases the prisons function as a location that restricts certain kinds of movements and actions while enabling others. Overall, one underlying message of the prison encounters through the texts is that prison can help people reach some sort of realization. Some texts enable a realization of self, while other texts enable a realization of a society as a whole, but regardless some sort of realization is met. Some texts in particular that successfully do this are De Profundis, Moll Flanders, and “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”.
First of all, in De Profundis by Oscar Wilde a self realization is met by the prisoner and author, Oscar Wilde. De Profundis was written in 1897 in prison over a course of three months. It is basically a letter from Wilde to himself written in an effort for Wilde to find a way to rationalize his sufferings in prison. In De Profundis, the movement for Wilde to Wandsworth and Reading was a transition from the self-definition of Wilde to the featureless and ritualized existence of a prisoner. As a prisoner and one who suffers, Wilde is excluded from the pleasures that accompany the fulfillment of individual desires, like material items. However, through this experience Wilde gains the access to the secret of human existence: our shared unhappy fate. In De Profundis Wilde states, “For the secret of Life is Suffering” (Wilde, 57). Wilde feels that his imprisonment has strengthened his self-reliance by tearing away the needs for material necessity, “Provided I had love in my heart. The external things in life seem of no importance to me now” (Wilde, 41). Basically, while …
…attering word/the coward does it with a kiss/the brave man with a sword”(Wilde, 37-42). In this excerpt from the poem Wilde is explaining exactly the realization of society he came to while in prison and that is that each man will kill, but some killings are more punishable than others.
To conclude, over the course of the semester there have been multiple texts that involve realizations in prison. Some texts such as De Profundis and Moll Flanders show self-realizations and self changes made in prison while other texts such as “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” show realizations of the society we live in. Overall, the message of these texts is that prison, in general, will help one come to some sort of realization and after reading these texts, although I have not experienced prison myself, I have learned a lot and have come to my own realizations about self and society.