Moral and Social Decline in Three Victorian Texts Essay

1355 Words 6 Pages
Discuss representations of social and/or moral decline in Victorian texts.

Moral and social decline are essential concepts to the Victorian era, the period having experienced radical change, innovation and uncertainty. The texts: The picture of Dorian Gray, The Time Machine, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, analogously act as dynamic explorative pieces of Victorian literature, centralising on pre-existing anxieties and concerns. The three pieces focalize on the anxieties specifically associated with the Fin-De-Siècle, demonstrating the apprehensive Victorian society. This essay will explore mutual notions within the selected texts, focalizing on Degeneration, the divergence of the central to the ‘other’, and appearance in
…show more content…
(Wilde, 2008:208) Wilde’s philosophy of aestheticism states that art cannot be either moral or immoral. After making this opinion explicit within the preface, the idea is re-enforced with Lord Henry refusing to believe that the Yellow book or any book could hold such power. However, Dorian Gray succumbs to offering a moral lesson with its final catharsis in the end anyways.

Dorian Gray depicts the degeneration of the soul and consciousness, the protagonist, Dorian, exploits the strange privileges the portrait affords him, dedicating himself to obtaining ‘as many pulsations as possible’ as Pater encourages. (Pater, 1868:152) In order to study the “the true nature of the senses,” he indulges to studying rare musical instruments, pursues research in items of luxury and excess such as jewellery, embroidery, fashion, and perfumes. Subsequently, he is led to indulge in more sordid affairs, which Wilde refrains from explicitly stating. (Wilde, 2008:126) This novel illustrates degeneration through the decline of morals, the dandy figure, and decadent society.

Jekyll and Hyde similarly, monopolises on this theme of decadent society; however, the novel is more explorative of the plural state of mind within man, constructing the theory that all men possess a degenerate self. All members of society, regardless of class, govern within them, their own atavistic criminal and civilised professional; they all bear a

Related Documents