Reclaiming the Body and the Spirit in Oscar Wilde’s Salomé

David Cregan


This paper explores Irish identity through a recent production of Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé. The title character has been historically constructed as an object of sexuality and a paradigm of evil. Salomé is the opposite of the other principal character in the play Iokanaan, or John the Baptist, whose chaste spirituality sets him as a paradigm of the holy. Yet, clearly, in Wilde’s play these two characters are drawn towards each other and, in fact, both are destined to die simply because of who they are. It is this very binary of the sexual and the spiritual, the evil verses the holy, that is embedded in Irish and Western ideas around what is good and what is bad in human experience. This paper explores, through performance as research, an integration of the corporeal and spiritual in a search for the integration of the fullness of identity that values all aspects of the human condition. 

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