Salomé

by: Oscar Wilde

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Oh! How strange the moon looks. You would think it was the hand of a dead woman who is seeking to cover herself with a shroud.

The Page marvels at the moon anew immediately before the raising of Jokanaan from the cistern. His vision provides yet another of the many elaborations of the metaphoric network—all organized around the color white—that twin the moon and Salomé. Here the dancing Salomé is mapped onto the image of a white female corpse. The princess's famous veil becomes a funeral shroud, and the veil's seductive, revealing tease appears reversed in the horrifying concealment of a dead body. Thus, in this treatment of two images, the body of the desired woman, seductively stripping itself of its coverings and baring itself under the (male) gaze, is at once a corpse that would shield itself from the indignity of being exposed and of being in view. The crossing of a sexual taboo—the step-father's incestuous gaze on the daughter—is twinned with the crossing of the taboo separating the dead and the living, a crossing that involves a fatal contamination of their respective realms. The image of seductive Salomé becomes the image of death, and looking at her sexually is analogous to looking upon death itself.