Oscar Wilde is known for his deep engagement withancient Greek literature and culture. Ancient Greece is thus the foundation ofWilde’s intellectual identity and a thread that runs through most of his writings. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it intends to show that the main woman character in Dorian Gray is connected to, or at least inspired by, Homer’s Odyssey as well as the discussion of Homer’s women in John AddingtonSymonds’s Studies of the Greek Poets (second series, 1876). Sybil Vane, who is the protagonist Dorian Gray’s first love, in many ways reproduces Wilde’s interpretation of the Princess Nausicaa in the Odyssey. Then, I argue that Wilde renounces the prevalent gender segregation that characterized much of Victorian culture. Despite his celebration of the variety of female archetypes in “The Women of Homer,” Wilde eventually conforms to the dominant Victorian belief in the essential differences between men and women. He ends his review essay by aligning traits for an “ideal wife” with the women in the Odyssey while objectifying Sybil in a similar fashion to the ways in which Symonds criticizes the various Homeric female archetypes.
Keywords: OscarWilde, Homer, The Odyssey, Greek literature, Sybil Vane, Addington Symonds
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