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A Book Report of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime

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A Book Report of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime


       Lord Arthur Savile's Crime is a short semi-comic mystery story written by Oscar Wilde and was first published in The Court and Society Review, in late 1887.

       Known for intriguing and whimsical style, Oscar Wilde remains to be one of the most famous English writers in the nineteenth century. At that time, aestheticism had been widely spread and highly appraised. As one of the most eminent aesthetes in his time, Wilde wrote a variety of plays, critical essays, fairy tales and stories. He is quite a unique one and is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.

       The main character of this story, Lord Arthur Savile, is introduced by Lady Windermere to a chiromantist Mr. Podgers who reads his palm and predicts that he will commit a murder or he will lose his wife-to-be Sybil. So, Lord Arthur decides to kill someone. The first victim he chooses is his aunt Lady Clementina, who suffers from heart disease. He gives her a capsule of poison and tells her to take this medicine when she has a heart attack. However, Lady Windermere dies a natural cause instead of taking his poison. Thus, after careful deliberation, his second candidate is his uncle. He buys dynamite disguised as a clock and sends it to his uncle. Yet, this time, his scheme still fails because the dynamite doesn't work. The chance comes when Lord Arthur is about to give up. He incidentally meets Mr. Podgers on the River Thames at night. He steals up behind and flings him into the river without hesitation. Finally, the story ends up in an unexpected way.

       From my perspective, Lord Arthur is always involved in the struggle between his destiny and himself. He repeatedly considers his option: to be good or to be evil. At first, he is basically a nice guy for he is sympathetic to the poor and feels ashamed of being an assassin. When he first hears of his horrible destiny, he tries to resist it. When thinking of the things he will do, he trembles with terror. However, he gradually surrenders to his instinct, to be evil, though he doesn't become a drastic murderer. During his first murder, for a moment Lord Arthur tempts to write to Lady Clementina for the pill, and to let the marriage go on as if there was no such person as Mr. Podgers. At this period, there still exists conscience in Lord Arthur's mind. But he makes up his mind to rearrange a second murder and is furious about the failed scheme. From his depression and irritation, I can sense that he is loose in morals. Eventually, he kills Mr. Podgers decisively and even feels reassuring about Mr. Podgers' death.As for Lord Arthur, the prophecy is a saving grace for him to commit the murder. As a lookers-on, I consider it ridiculous that he should perceivehis crime as a way of self-sacrifice without noticing the fact that he is enslaved by his own hideous mind.

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