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Salome A Wilde Perspective

Salom: A Wilde Perspective Oscar Wilde had long been fascinated by the Biblical story of Salom, princess of Judea, who danced for King Herod and asked for the head of St John the Baptist in return. So he decided to write down his own version of the tale; however, Wilde’s Salom turned out to be something quite special, and not just because it was written in French. The Gospel according to Mark and Matthew According to the Gospels, St John is beheaded on instigation of Herodias, Queen of Judea, who is fed up with the prophet’s comments on her incestuous marriage with her brother-in-law, King Herod. Herodias tells her dancing daughter (who is not given a name) to ask for the head of the prophet as a reward for her skill, and the girl dutifully obeys. King Herod has no other choice but the grant the girl’s wish.The Gospel according to Wilde The play is all about the sudden consuming passion of Salom, daughter of Queen Herodias and stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, for the prophet Jokanaan, and his fierce rejection of her love. Hurt and humiliated, Salom swears she will kiss Jokanaan’s lips. When Herod, lusting after his stepdaughter, urges her to dance, she does so, only after he has promised to give her whatever she may ask of him. In Wilde’s interpretation, Salom is not just be her mother’s tool, but a girl with a will of her own. She then asks for the head of Jokanaan on a silver platter. Very reluctantly, but forced to be true to his word, Herod fulfills his promise. At the climax of the play, Salom finally kisses the lips of Jokanaan’s severed head with such passion that Herod, horrified (and jealous?), orders his soldiers to kill her. Salom is judged incredibly perverse and cruel because she demands the head of Jokanaan, the man who scorns her love. But what to say of Jokanaan himself? The cruelty in his treatment of the young Princess is considerable. We must not forget that Salom ...

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