I have spent the last several days with this story: analyzing it, researching it, reading it, and writing about it. For a short story, it is quite gripping and moving. It’s funny out times, outlandish at others. Like Dorian Gray in many respects, it explores human nature. It doesn’t critique it explicitly but extremely subtly. Wilde is ingenious in that way: he makes the reader do all the work.
Without giving it all away, here’s a general summary of what the story is about :
At a party at Lady Windermere’s house, Lord Arthur Savile meets the cheiromantist (hand reader), Septimus Podgers. After some convincing, Podgers reads Lord Arthur’s hand and tells him that he will commit a murder. After hearing this, Lord Arthur Savile feels a great duty to carry out the deed before he marries his sweetheart, Sybil Morton: “He felt that to marry her, with the doom of a murder hanging over his head, would be a betrayal like that of Judas, a sin worse than any the Borgia had ever dreamed of” (Wilde 39).
I am really glad I decided to write my paper on this story because it really brought out some interesting topics. The story itself took me less than an hour to read and I found myself really enjoying it. Usually I don’t get really involved with short stories, but I was genuinely interested in what would happen next. If you like short stories and are interested/enjoy the works of Oscar Wilde, I definitely recommend this one. It has a lot of the same themes and motifs that show up in his later works.