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Dorian gray critical essays


  • The Picture of Dorian Gray Essay.
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Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. An aesthete therefore has to make choices without paying attention to moral or didactic issues. The artist can express everything.

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Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. This definition is clearly extended to life itself by limiting aestheticism not only to art but also including literature, music and any kind of work that creates pleasure.


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This shows that to the aesthete the ideal life mimics art and that even though art might be attractive, it is at the same time useless beyond its beauty. For the sake of completeness, Wilde mentions two other doctrines that are part of Aestheticism as Vivian summarizes it:. All bad art comes from returning to Life and Nature, and elevating them into ideals.

Life and Nature may sometimes be used as part of Art's rough material, but before they are of any real service to art they must be translated into artistic conventions. The moment Art surrenders its imaginative medium it surrenders everything. Keeping the concepts and ideas of Aestheticism in mind, as Wilde defines them, we will now take a closer look at the four main characters: Basil Hallward, Sibyl Vane, Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray.

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Each one of the characters lives up to certain aesthetic ideals, despite gradual changes in behavior which we can witness throughout the novel. It will be my goal to identify the issues that can be found within the characters and explain the reasons for their change of personality. Being a pseudo-mirror image of Wilde, several critics regard Basil Hallward as the central character in the novel Kohl To summarize, the painter had created art for the sake of beauty and without any further-reaching thoughts, following the main ideals of Wilde's new aestheticism perfectly.

All this changes when Basil meets Dorian Gray for the first time. I turned half-way round and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale.

Essay: The Picture of Dorian Gray: Corruption Through Aestheticism

A curious sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself. Wilde 9. Enraptured by his own loveliness, Dorian wishes that the traditional relationship between art and life could be overturned.

Instead of the picture remaining youthful as he grows old, he wants the portrait to suffer the ravages of age while he retains his good looks. Basil's charming but amoral friend, Lord Henry Wotton, encourages Dorian to lead a selfish life of pleasure, leaving all manner of emotional wreckage in his wake. When the picture begins to deteriorate in line with his morals, Dorian hides it in his attic to prevent anyone seeing its terrible decay.

How Oscar Wilde Painted Over “Dorian Gray”

After twenty years of various excesses, Dorian still looks like he did when he was eighteen, but the portrait has become foully distorted; a loathsome vision of his shrivelling soul. When Basil discovers what has become of his masterpiece, Dorian murders him and blackmails his friend Alan Campbell into disposing of his body. Ostracised, horribly aware of what he has become, and disgusted by the picture he once adored, Dorian stabs the portrait through the heart, killing himself. When his body is found, the portrait is once again pristine, but he is so wrinkled and withered that he can only be identified by the rings on his ancient hands.

Wilde encouraged his critics to concentrate on the book's artistic qualities, but many found it difficult to be so intellectually detached, particularly once Wilde's homosexuality became public knowledge in the Spring and Summer of Wilde was frequently identified with his creation, famously remarking that Dorian Gray 'contains much of me': Basil Hallward is 'what I think I am,' Lord Henry 'what the world thinks me,' and 'Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.

Dorian Gray Critics, Characters And Themes Quotes

Books are well written, or badly written. The trajectory of the book is seemingly towards the punishment of the abandonment of morals by the aesthete. Yet these defensive tactics did not, in the end, protect Wilde from an Establishment that disliked his political, aesthetic and sexual transgressions.

The British Library houses the Lady Eccles collection, one of the most extensive collections of Wilde and Wilde-related materials in the world, containing over volumes and a variety of ephemera. It was this copy that Johnson leant to his Oxford friend Lord Alfred Douglas, and both young men went to meet Wilde for the first time in June He is a specialist in Late Victorian literature, Gothic and Science fiction literature and film, and the history of the supernatural.

The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License. Perversion and degeneracy in The Picture of Dorian Gray.