Analysis Of Aestheticism In The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde

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When observing any form of art, the spectator often attempts to look beneath the surface of the piece to find the artist’s deeper meaning. Throughout the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde emphasizes his belief in aestheticism. He attempts to enforce the idea that art should be created for art’s sake, and that people can not conclude anything about the artist from their art. In the preface, Wilde warns readers that “all art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril” (Wilde 2). Nearly all readers disregard Wilde’s warnings and attempt to compare Wilde to many of the characters in the novel. Wilde himself even goes against his own warnings and compares himself to his art. In a letter made …show more content…
Basil is the artist who has put too much of himself in his art and suffers the consequences. When discussing his painting of Dorian Gray, Basil explains that he must not display the painting because “I will not bare my soul to their shallow, prying eyes. My heart shall never be put under their microscope. There is too much of myself in the thing, Harry--too much of myself!” (Wilde 13). After creating the painting of Dorian Gray, Basil realizes that he has put too much of his personal feelings and emotions into the painting. He does not want society to understand his personal insecurities through his art. Similarly, Oscar Wilde puts too much of himself in his art and has to defend himself to society. Though Wilde attempts to appear unaffected on the surface, he truly cares about others opinions of him. He preaches aestheticism and attempts to claim that an artist can not be understood through their work. Unfortunately, much like Basil, he ends up putting much of himself into the novel anyway. The Picture of Dorian Gray was highly criticized by society and was eventually the cause of Wilde’s demise. Basil made art for more than just “art’s sake” and eventually paid the price with his life. Similarly, Wilde was put into jail because of his art. He failed to keep his personal feelings from showing in his artwork, which caused society to judge Wilde based on his novel. When the Marquess of Queensbury Society put …show more content…
Dorian Gray is a supporter and a master of hedonism. When discussing his feelings, Dorian explains that “a man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them” (Wilde 112). Much like Dorian, Wilde wants to become a master of his own feelings. He is probably ashamed of his personal habits and wants to keep them under control and not be swept away by his feelings for other men. However, Dorian also represents Wilde’s desire to sin freely. When talking to Dorian about rumors that had been spreading about him, Basil says “Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed” (Wilde 153). This shows Oscar Wilde’s fear that people will be able to see his sins written across his face. Wilde believes that it is impossible to sin without showing it in someway, and so he desires Dorian’s ability to sin freely. No one is able to believe that Dorian could ever commit a sin because he never appears any different from it. When confronting him about his social habits, Basil explains “but you, Dorian, with you pure, bright, innocent face, and your marvelous untroubled youth--I can’t believe anything against you” (Wilde 154). Wilde wishes to be like Dorian in the sense that he embraces sin and the

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