The Importance Of Estheticism In The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde

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Art and the pursuit of beauty are two of the primary driving forces of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Art is aesthetically pleasing because it is essentially anything created predominantly for the purpose of being beautiful. Whether a painter, an actress, an orator, or even an opera singer, each artist in the novel is depicted as most beautiful when observed through their art. Reality, the shared apparently physical space in which all individual universes seem to be stranded, can be ugly because it can foster anything rationally conceivable. Under Wilde’s philosophy of aestheticism, one seeks moral pleasure from specifically artistic beauty rather than real life’s wide and polluted functionality. Beauty is both the noblest …show more content…
This is because art is a purified reflection of reality that exhibits only reality 's most beautiful characteristics. Once Dorian Gray has fallen in love with beautiful young actress Sibyl Vane, he proclaims that “the only thing worth loving is an actress” (Wilde 51). He dislikes most other women because there is no art to them, but an actress is “[worthy]” of his love because she lives her art when she performs. Art is inherently and solely beautiful and therefore acts as a lens through which only pure beauty can be seen. Sybil is irresistible to Dorian because of how beautiful she is when viewed through art. Wilde states in the preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray that "all art is quite useless" and must be "[admired] intensely" because he believed in Walter Pater 's concept of "art for art 's sake" (Wilde 5, Pater). According to Wilde 's aestheticism, one should only use art for the sensory or soulful pleasure that its beauty begets. Unfortunately, Dorian falls in love with Sybil’s art and completely neglects the artist herself. Wilde hints at this calamity when he has Dorian refer to his beloved as a “thing” that can be “worth” something, but it becomes most heartbreakingly apparent when Sibyl Vane loses her art for love of Dorian, and thus Dorian loses everything that he ever loved about her. Without the lens of art, which gave him the most beautiful and moral perceptible representation of her, Sybil disgusts him. He cries, “You have killed my love” and admits that “without [her] art”, she is “nothing... to [him]” (Wilde 85). Dorian loved Ophelia, and Cordelia, and the daughter of Brabantio, but he never loved Sibyl Vane. Wilde warns the reader not to make Dorian’s mistake of falling in love with a person 's beautiful artistic representation alone because art should be appreciated for beauty, not utilized for love in reality and

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