Hedonism In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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“The picture of Dorian Gray” was originally published in Lippincots monthly magazine in June 1890. The novel is gothic melodrama, with elements of the comedy of manners-genre and is written according to the end of the Victorian era. Crafted in brilliant prose, the book is of lasting importance, as a singular example of Wilde’s wit and satirical talents. The reader follows the tale of Dorian Gray, a young man, who is corrupted and poisoned by the influences around him as his soul decays.

Being absolutely shocking to its time, due to the austere theories featured in the novel, including hedonism, individualism and the somewhat morbid elements it also includes, the novel received substantial criticism and hysterical protest. To such attacks Wilde
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In amending his work the following year, Wilde introduced additional chapters, considerable alterations and a preface, which serves to defend and explain his philosophy of art, including the famous passage: “There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written that is all.” In order to comprehend his claim fully, one must firstly take into consideration the moral environment of the time period, and the Victorian sensibility regarding art and morality. The picture of Dorian Gray is set at the height of the decadent artistic movement, making the novel a contemporary of its author, Oscar Wilde, a leading figure of this movement, popularly known as Aestheticism, in Britain. The decadent movement however, celebrating aesthetic pleasure and experience, took place in the broader setting of the late Victorian era, which of course was dominated by Victorian morality. A term characterized by values which supported sexual repression, low tolerance and strong social ethics. Throughout this era, literature was mainly dominated by highly moral themes as opposed to greed, exploitation and cynicism, features that are greatly emphasized in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The immorality of Wilde’s work is mainly introduced through the character of Lord Henry Wotton, but is realized by the protagonist, Dorian Gray, who …show more content…
What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of their custom or their lack of imagination.” (p. 70, chapter IV) His character remains as such throughout the novel, for the reader experiences no radical change or evolution; this making him a rather static character. Due to this, the reader may also experience a changed conception of his philosophies, which initially might be perceived as capturing and enthralling, but soon gives the impression of being superficial and naïve when put into practice by Dorian

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