The Harlot’s House/ La Melinite Moulin Rouge

Throughout both pieces Arthur Symons and Oscar Wilde both discuss the allure of women who take part in the act of putting their appearance on display which was seen as a sin in the 1800’s. Oscar Wilde describes what him and his lover witness outside of the “Harlot’s House” as a negative experience where some sort of party or celebration is taking place. To shed light on the negative aspect of such celebrations he uses dark diction to explain how he feels about such acts. When he describes the dancers as “ghostly” and their laughter as “thin and shrill,” he suggests that their happiness is derived from actions that are not typically socially acceptable, or in his case, not acceptable by his means. Wilde also demonstrates his own negative outlook on such actions when he describes how his lover is lured into the house through the sounds of the violin. As he narrates this scene he no longer refers to him and his love as one person but as two suggesting that their beliefs and interests at this particular moment vary greatly. He begins this transition when he says

“Then, turning to my love, I said,
‘The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.’

But she–she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust

Through this statement he tells his readers that he is displeased with his love’s interest and allure towards the Harlot House and states his frustrations by further stating “And down the long and silent street, The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet, Crept like a frightened girl.” This statement is in reference to his love who he suggests must realize the frightening nature of the house she has ventured into and must come creeping back as a frightened girl. Wilde’s work is formulated around the social construct of what is right and wrong. Arthur Symons demonstrates a similar belief in his work of “La Melinite; Moulin Rouge” which is his poem about a popular dancer at the Moulin Rouge who was described by Symons as a person who had artistic talent in a dark place. When he refers to her dances as the “dance of shadows” he suggests that her form of dancing holds a sort of dark element. This idea is similar to Wilde’s due to his use of the word “shadows” in a negative light. Even though Symons refers to La Melinite as a rose he still demonstrates that he and Wilde are products of their time when they describe such acts in a negative aspect. These ideas and rules for what is socially acceptable was formulated through religious beliefs and teachings that demonstrated what was right, wrong and sinful through God’s eyes, thus causing such places as the Harlot House and the Moulin Rouge to be considered hopeless places indulged with the very pleasures that were considered sinful through societies perspective.

 

~MD

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