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Our Aromatic Uncle Essay

1258 words - 6 pages

The Victorian society of the nineteenth-century was a period marked by sensationalism and superficiality but also by the emergence of a new kind of novel and short story that expressed ideas about subjects that were normally taboo or avoided in this society. A year before his death in 1896, Henry Cuyler Bunner wrote the short story “Our Aromatic Uncle” which presents an unreliable narrator and very strong allusions to same-sex love . This essay will analyze the homosexual subtext in Bunner’s short story. This text will explore how the phrase popularized by Oscar Wild “the love that dares not speak its name” express itself as well as on what and how same-sex love is displaced in the short ...view middle of the document...

Another really good example that Tommy really put David on a pedestal occurs when the narrator mentions “to the butcher-boy it did not seem right in the nature of things that anything should displease the judge’s son” (204). We can conclude that Tommy has not the kind behavior somebody usually has with a person who is a friend or even a best friend. This admiration and adoration is a kind of behavior that we sometime see when one person in a couple is in complete admiration with his beloved one. Finally, we can certainly agree that Bunner illustrated, in "Our Aromatic Uncle", the love of a man for another but he definitely portrayed it indirectly since same-sex love between two individuals was taboo and not socially accepted in Victorian society.

Second of all, this story written at the end of the nineteenth-century can be summarized in one very short sentence popularized by Oscar Wilde. Wilde used and popularized the short phrase “the love that dares not speak its name”. It is totally obvious that this statement talks about homosexuality and same-sex love at a time where it was unconventional and not generally accepted by the society. It also expresses the feelings of shame and guiltiness homosexual people can had in Victorian society and even nowadays. This popular sentence can easily be linked to the short story written by Bunner because there is, in “Our Aromatic Uncle”, very strong allusions to homosexuality without ever using this kind of term to describe the relation between Tommy and David. It is really interesting to see how the author successfully carries to the reader this perception of same-sex love without using the exact name of this “strange” relation. Some other clues in the story let also the reader believe that Tommy has never officially declared his love to David. We can read at the end of Bunner’s story that the little butcher-boy “ran away to sea to be body-guard, servant and friend to the splendid, showy, selfish youth [David] whom he worshipped; whose heartlessness he cloaked for many a long year, who lived upon his bounty, and who died in his arms, nursed with a tenderness surpassing that of a brother” (212). This description definitely shows that the unconditional love of Tommy for David has never been expressed loud and clear and this can, without a doubt, be related to “the love that dares not speak its name”. To conclude, some passages also let the reader believe that David had probably not the same kind of feeling for Tommy. The old gentleman explains to the narrator that David had no money, that he drank a lot and that he had relations with ladies (211).

Third of all, as same-sex love is not...

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