Mini-Literary Analysis on Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde 1890

Mini-Literary Analysis on Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde 1890
Picture of Dorian Gray written by Oscar Wilde in 1890 is considered to be one of his greatest novels because it combines in itself many conflicting terms such as vice and virtue, art and morality, etc. Moreover, the author has organically united the basic points of his aesthetic theory (preface to the novel), and artistic realization of these points (the novel by itself) in the novel. Thus, Oscar Wilde?s novel Picture of Dorian Gray presents the readers a fantastic story how a man and a picture have changed their places and roles: Dorian Gray remained unchanged in appearance for eighteen years, while a picture took on it the function of the aging, reflecting the traces of all the passions and vices.

Thinking about the idea of aesthetics of absolute superiority of art over a real life, which occupies its principal place in the novel, it becomes understandable that the picture of Dorian made by his friend Basil Hallward, like any true work of art, reflects the true Dorian?s nature; while art is truthful testimony that considered to be a faithful mirror of life of the hero. Moreover, Dorian?s attempt to destroy the picture (which was safely tucked away) was completed by the main hero?s death in the final of the novel because the picture as a work of art is indestructible. The picture will live forever in his original beauty.

As it was previously said, the novel is written in aesthetic style, and the style?s many details are notable for their elegance and refinement. For instance, Dorian Gray?s passion for precious stones is shown in the following way: ?He loved the red gold of the sunstone, and the moonstone?s pearly whiteness, and the broken rainbow of the milky opal? (Wilde, 1890, chapter 11). It allows to understand how the author used thrice-repeated construction in the enumeration, and how he applied the following colorful metaphors: ?pearly whiteness?, ?broken rainbow?, ?milky opal?.

Thus, very frequent mention of luxurious things in the characters? everyday life is also an obvious attempt to follow the refined style, dandyism and aestheticism. For instance, in the phrase ?She had all the delicate grace of that Tanagra figurine that you have in your studio? the author used a comparison and the epithet ?delicate?, equating Sybil Vane to exquisite statuette for the purpose to give the reader an idea of the impression produced by the girl on Dorian (Wilde, 1890, chapter 6). To sum up, the use of fine exotic methods is obvious to the novel because these methods deeply described both originality of aestheticism as a literary movement, and Oscar Wilde?s personality as a writer.

Wilde denied moral beauty, and, therefore, he departed the own personality from the reality in making a cult of beauty as the antipode of everyday banalities that he did not accept. The author negated the need for knowledge, and, thus, he fell into aestheticism, decadence and immorality. He uttered aphorisms, which preached doubtful values and immoral ideas. To be more specific in discussing vice and moral beauty, it is possible to note that the influence of Henry Wotton on Dorian Gray was very complicated. Lord Henry knew that sin destroys the beauty and puts a terrible track on a human face. That is why he repeatedly told Dorian about the need to save the soul, emphasizing the idea to be enjoying the life with peace of mind, which only a clear conscience gives. The hero remembered those words, and some of the lost echoes of conscience were heard in the speeches of Dorian even much later, when he lost most of his best qualities. And in this context, the appearance of the main hero played a fateful role in his fate. No one believed in his repentance because it was even impossible to conceive him in depravity. This understanding followed from the fact that the vicious person cannot preserve the own beauty. Lord Henry constantly checked his friend, but all his attempts were completely meaningless because Henry Wotton could not see the picture. As a result, it is paradoxically to realize the essence of Dorian?s life. Dorian, who strived for beauty and a pleasant pastime, was forced to secretly entertain in dirty brothels, to seek solace in opium, and to enjoy the love of women of pleasure. It was an evil mockery of the ideals that Lord Henry drew to Dorian Gray.

In final analysis, the author have realized the own aesthetic system of views in his novel, using concepts of vice and virtue, art and morality, and have applied all the necessary methods of aesthetic style to the novel. Thus, the main hero, realizing the death of his soul, was able to remain calm for a long time. He led a double life, but neither Lord Henry nor Basil Hallward were innocent in Dorian?s inner changes because the hero was guilty by self in all his troubles, and his sentence was absolutely inevitable in the novel. In such a way, the novel gives its readers understanding that their life is in their hands, and it is always necessary to think the more about the own soul than about the outer beauty.


Work Cited
Wilde, Oscar. Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890. Available at http://freelit.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/wilde-dorian.pdf

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