Abstract Aestheticism In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

2706 words - 11 pages

19th century England was entrenched in the idea that art could be used as not only a method of expression, but also one of social advancement. With this idea at its forefront, art suddenly inundated places where art was never previously found, such as social education and morality. In contrast, Oscar Wilde was a key advocate of an idea known aestheticism, a concept that relied on art simply being art. Oscar Wilde played a major role in Victorian England, having a major influence through his writing. At its peak "the movement had a disdain for any traditional, natural, political, or moral ideals; rather, the importance of nonconformist form and subject matter were fore grounded" (Majer). Wilde suggested that art should hold no purpose in society and merely exist for its beauty. He argued, as any aesthete would, that by giving art a value greater than its beauty, society is in turn ruining it. He also added that art must be looked at as a whole, and only those who can see the complete "picture" can truly understand the meaning behind art, while also seeing into the artist's soul. In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde portrays aestheticism in many ways, mainly through art and the human soul. Wilde, comparable to a puppeteer, manipulates each character in order to ultimately depict the ideas behind aestheticism; he plays upon each characters eternal search for contentment, their connections with their inner souls, and their various ties with art. With each character's actions, Wilde reinforces the overarching theme upon the true purpose of art, but at the same time warns the reader against aestheticism in its purest form.
Each character in the novel searches for the elusive goal of happiness, but is never able to attain it. Through each character's search for contentment, Wilde is able to portray to the reader one of the cornerstone ideas behind the aesthetic philosophy. "To the aesthete, there is no distinction between moral and immoral acts, only between those that increase or decrease one’s happiness; yet, Dorian Gray refutes this idea, presenting a strong case for the inherent immorality of purely aesthetic lives" (Duggan). When the reader is first introduced to Dorian Gray, he radiates the young naiveté similar to that of a child, but Lord Henry completely alters Dorian's personality. "The Lord Henry that Wilde projects is, in accordance with Wilde’s expressed philosophy, the ultimate artist" (Shuman). Dorian becomes Lord Henry's canvas, with each word acting as a brushstroke on Dorian's life. "'Yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once.'" (2354) Yet instantly Wilde introduces to the reader that Dorian is simply a representation of the true aesthete, personifying the philosophy that beauty is the only motivator in life. "Dorian is both a figure representing the sacred virtues of art...

Find Another Essay On Abstract Aestheticism in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

How Art Relates to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

907 words - 4 pages How Art Relates to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel about a young, handsome, and vain man who has his portrait painted, and impulsively wishes that he could forever remain just as handsome as he is in the painting -- that the painting would age instead of him. He gets his wish in a most eerie way; as, with passing years, he becomes increasingly dissolute and evil

The Influences of Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray

1591 words - 6 pages The Influences of Oscar WildeThroughout his life Oscar Wilde had many strong influences exerted upon him. During his early childhood his mother influenced him and into college some of his professors and certain philosophers left a substantial impression upon him. Into adulthood these influences leaked out in his writing. These influences gave him ample ideas for writing The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde's study of the Hellenistic ideals of

The Gothic Tradition in Stoker's Dracula and Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray

2382 words - 10 pages The Gothic Tradition in Stoker's Dracula and Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray Gothic Literature was a natural progression from romanticism, which had existed in the 18th Century. Initially, such a ‘unique’ style of literature was met with a somewhat mixed response; although it was greeted with enthusiasm from members of the public, literary critics were much more dubious and sceptical. Gothic writing is a style of literature that relies upon

Criticism of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

1148 words - 5 pages Criticism of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray          The novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by Oscar Wilde originally appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890.  It was then published in 1891, in book form, containing six additional chapters with revisions. The first reviews of Dorian Gray were mostly unfavorable.  It was condemned for its speculative treatment  of immoral or at least uncomfortable subjects. A

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

560 words - 2 pages futile, he indulges in opium; and, this symbolizes the moment when he is no longer in control of his life and looks for an escape through opium's pleasures. No matter what he did, no matter what he collected, Dorian was forever restless and empty. No amount of matter and materials permanently satisfied him.Just as the materials and matter of this world are finite, the satisfaction they proved are just as fleeting. The pursuit of worldly materials and pleasures leaves one unsatisfied.BibliographyWilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. USA: Borders Classics, 2006

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

1523 words - 6 pages show the real face much better than the mirror can reflect it.1. I consider Oscar Wilde's work The Picture of Dorian Gray to be a great example of how powerful, effective and influential the art can be. In this book it is the painter Basil Hallward, who made a Dorian's portrait so perfect like the reflection of him in the mirror. Later in the book the portrait changed and Dorian found out that it showed something that could never be seen in the

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

1498 words - 6 pages to look to the inside - into the soul. This is the place where the real beauty and ugliness are hidden.The notion of inner and outer beauty is perfectly presented in the novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. The story described in this book shows how the external attractiveness influences people's behavior and corrupts the inner beauty. The plot situated in the XIX England perfectly describes the higher class of this period. Shallow

Frankenstein Language Analysis, The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde

683 words - 3 pages . The "thunder sounds," while no storm is actually present, is a motif to let the reader know that the monster is coming. From the storm that incited Victor's original ambition, to the monster's stormy creation, a tempest precedes the monster's arrival. This storm shows the chaos that comes with the monster instead of the fame and success that Victor originally envisioned.SparkNotes Editors. "SparkNote on The Picture of Dorian Gray." SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 1 Feb. 2012.

The Reader's Sympathy for Dorian from Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

2110 words - 8 pages , characters are defined as good or evil based on their revealed thoughts and actions. On occasion an anomaly may be found, where a character is more ambiguous. Dorian Gray’s Actions throughout The Picture of Dorian Gray paralyzes the readers’ ability to condemn Dorian as purely good or purely evil, causing them to be more sympathetic than usual. In the beginning of the book, Dorian seems to be an innocent, charming, beautiful young man, and even

PHILOSOPHY AND IDEAS IN OSCAR WILDE’S ‘THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY’

1854 words - 7 pages Henry's aesthetic lifestyles. This essay's purpose is an interpretation of the philosophy and ideas of Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Thus, this essay will briefly introduce the reader with the Aesthetic movement and its reflection in the philosophy of the novel, presenting Wilde's 'New Hedonism' and Homoeroticism. It will also provide information about Oscar Wilde's standpoints of Realism and 'Anti-Victorian morality' and Wilde's

PHILOSOPHY AND IDEAS IN OSCAR WILDE’S ‘THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY’

1854 words - 7 pages Henry's aesthetic lifestyles. This essay's purpose is an interpretation of the philosophy and ideas of Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Thus, this essay will briefly introduce the reader with the Aesthetic movement and its reflection in the philosophy of the novel, presenting Wilde's 'New Hedonism' and Homoeroticism. It will also provide information about Oscar Wilde's standpoints of Realism and 'Anti-Victorian morality' and Wilde's

Similar Essays

Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1722 words - 7 pages Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray      The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde. The genre of this novel can be classified as a comedy of manners or a gothic novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Another version with an additional six chapters was published in 1891. One of the major themes in the novel was the Supremacy of Beauty and Youth. A very attractive man

Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1105 words - 4 pages Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray - What is the author trying to say about life through this book? Explain why you think so. I am not to sure on exactly what the author is trying to say through this book. I think he is telling us to live a full and moral life. Well I don't think he expects us to lead a completely moral life, but because of the picture of Dorian's soul I think he was trying to say lead a good life. He wants us to know

The Conscience Of Dorian Gray In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

2871 words - 11 pages The Conscience of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray Much of the criticism regarding The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde has dealt with Dorian Gray’s relation to his own portrait (Raby 392). While some may argue that the portrait represents a reflection of Dorian Gray’s character, this is only a superficial analysis of the novel and Dorian’s character. While Dorian Gray’s true character never changes, it is his

Oscar Wilde's "Picture Of Dorian Gray" And The Hedonistic Effect On The Characters.

750 words - 3 pages Dorian Gray. Wilde's timeless novel vividly portrays the hedonism ideals as the theme of the Picture of Dorian Gray with its characters' mentality, roles, and eventual demise.The hero of the novel, Dorian Gray, is introduced as an innocent, beautiful young boy until he-in a mad instant- prays that his beauty shall live on while his portrait bares the resemblance of his shame and disgrace. Basil Hallward, the painter of the doomed portrait, praises