Of dorian gray essay

The idea that there is no morality in art, only beauty (or an absence of beauty, in the case of bad art), is the central tenet of a movement known as aestheticism, which sought to free literature and other forms of artistic expression from the burden of being ethical or instructive. Wilde himself was associated closely with this creed, as the Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray makes clear. But the novel that follows grapples with the philosophy of art for art’s sake in a complicated way. After all, the protagonist suffers from the lessons he has learned from the yellow book that has “poisoned” him. Lord Henry insists that a book can do no such thing, and we are left to decide how much blame one can place on a book and how much blame must be placed on the reader. Indeed, in one respect, The Picture of Dorian Gray seems to be a novel of extremely moral sensibilities, since Dorian suffers because he allows himself to be poisoned by a book. In other words, he defies the artistic principles that structure the yellow book. One must wonder, then, if there is such a thing as a book without some sort of moral or instruction.

And why? Because we live in a culture where youth is idolized and age is the enemy of the people—the goal these days seems to be not just to stop aging, but to get younger .

We're not the first culture to embrace this cult of youth, though. As we see in The Picture of Dorian Gray , our predecessors in the nineteenth century also longed for undying youth and beauty. In fact, the quest for the Fountain of Youth is one of the oldest stories there is; apparently, humanity in general has had a hard time getting over the fact that we all grow old and die.

Of dorian gray essay

of dorian gray essay


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