The Picture of Dorian Gray: Corruption Through Aestheticism

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde that tells the story of a young man who becomes corrupted by his own vanity. The novel explores the theme of aestheticism, which is the belief that art should be appreciated for its beauty rather than its moral value. The picture itself represents the corruption of Dorian’s soul, as it becomes increasingly ugly as he commits more and more evil deeds. The novel is a cautionary tale about the dangers of selfishness and superficiality.

In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, aestheticism is used to illustrate moral degeneration. Basil Hallward, a well-intentioned artist, paints a portrait of young Dorian. After chatting with cynical Lord Henry Wotton, Dorati ogensa that his life will be ruined for good if he makes a wish. “For I would lose everything! Yes, even my soul,” says Dorian (Wilde 110).

The novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is the story of a young man who wishes that a portrait Basil Hallward paints of him would age instead of him. The portrait begins to grow old and corrupt while Dorian remains young and beautiful. As time goes on, Dorian becomes more and more corrupted himself, committing crimes and turning into a monster. The novel is a criticism of aestheticism, as it shows how the pursuit of beauty can lead to moral corruption.

Aestheticism is the philosophy that art is more important than anything else, and that it should be pursued for its own sake. The Picture of Dorian Gray shows how this philosophy can lead to disaster. The novel has been banned multiple times because of its decadent and amoral content. The first time it was banned was in Ireland, where Wilde was from. The Irish government condemned the book for its “lewd and obscene” (Banned Books) content.

When Dorian’s wife, Julia, dies in childbirth, he blames himself and resolves to lead a life of prudence. Given as a present by Lord Henry Wotton, who also serves as the devil that sells his soul to Dorian (Bloom 107), this book offers insight into how Dorian lives an unethical existence.

The novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is an excellent example of how corruption can occur through aestheticism. The main character, Dorian Gray, becomes corrupted because he pursues beauty and pleasure to such an extreme that it consumes him.

The corruption that takes place within Dorian Gray is mainly caused by his own actions and choices. However, the novel does contain a number of factors which contribute to Dorian’s downfall. These include the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, the portrait of Dorian Gray, and Sibyl Vane’s death.

Lord Henry Wotton is one of the main reasons why Dorian becomes corrupted. Lord Henry is a very charismatic man who has a great deal of influence over Dorian. He is always talking about how important it is to pursue pleasure and live life to the fullest. He tells Dorian that “the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it” (Wilde 24).

In other words, Lord Henry is saying that the only way to get rid of something that you want is to give in and do it. This is obviously not good advice, but Dorian is so impressed by Lord Henry’s charms that he takes his word as gospel. As a result, Dorian starts living his life according to Lord Henry’s philosophy and ends up becoming just as corrupt as him.

The portrait of Dorian Gray also plays a role in his corruption. The portrait serves as a physical representation of Dorian’s soul. As Dorian becomes more corrupt, the portrait becomes more hideous to look at. The portrait is a constant reminder of Dorian’s own corruption and it eventually drives him insane.

The death of Sibyl Vane is also a factor in Dorian’s corruption. Sibyl is a young actress who Dorian falls in love with. He is so enchanted by her beauty and talent that he asks her to marry him. However, when she sees his true nature, she realizes that he is not really in love with her. She kills herself out of despair and this act furthers corrupts Dorian. Overall, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel about how corruption can occur through aestheticism.

The story underscores the novel’s criticism of aestheticism, which has a detrimental influence on the main characters. Each of the three primary characters is an aesthete who suffers some form of horrible personal disaster as a resultof his or her devotion to his or her creative work.

Basil Hallward’s aestheticism is shown in his dedication to his artistic works. He seeks for outside world perfection when he discovers this object, and he may produce masterpieces by painting it (Bloom 109). He refuses to show Dorian Gray’s portrait, claiming that “I have invested far too much of myself into it.”

The portrait is a physical embodiment of Basil’s own soul, and by refusing to let anyone see it he is attempting to protect himself. However, the novel argues that such an act is impossible and that all attempts to do so are futile. The result of his aestheticism is Basil’s death at Dorian’s hand.

Lord Henry Wotton’s aestheticism is more intellectual than emotional. He pursues beauty through knowledge and artifice rather than emotion. His philosophy dictates that one should “study in the hearts of others” (Wilde 54). In other words, instead of looking within themselves for knowledge and truth, people should study those around them and learn from their actions and emotions.

The problem with this philosophy is that it leads to a life of artifice and deceit. People are not truly being themselves when they follow Lord Henry’s advice, but are instead performing for others. The novel argues that this is a dangerous way to live, as it can lead to terrible consequences. The result of Lord Henry’s aestheticism is the destruction of Dorian Gray’s soul.

Dorian Gray’s aestheticism is different from that of Basil and Lord Henry in that it is based solely on physical beauty. He pursues beauty through hedonistic pleasures and lives a life devoid of morality. The novel argues that this is the most dangerous form of aestheticism, as it leads to corruption and self-destruction. The result of Dorian Gray’s aestheticism is his physical decay and eventual death.

“An artist should produce beautiful things, but he should put nothing of his own life into them,” says Lord Henry Wotton (Wilde 25). Ironically, Basil Hallward’s goal in life is to become one with his art, and this very piece of work serves as the catalyst for Dorian Gray’s realization that there are no moral repercussions to his actions.

The reason that The Picture of Dorian Gray is such a controversial novel is because it questions the Victorian values that many people held dear. Aestheticism was a movement that began in Europe in the late 1800s and its main goal was to glorify beauty in all forms (art, music, fashion, etc).

The Aesthetes believed that art should be enjoyed for its own sake and not for any moral or political message it might contain. This ideal was very controversial at the time because many people believed that art should have a purpose beyond just making things pretty. The Aesthetes were often accused of being selfish and amoral because of their beliefs. The Picture of Dorian Gray is full of references to Aestheticism and its effects on Dorian’s character.

The novel begins with Basil Hallward painting a portrait of Dorian Gray. As he works, he becomes more and more obsessed with his own creation. He says that the young man in the portrait is “the type of perfection” and that he “would give his soul for that one miracle of beauty” (Wilde 9). This is the first hint that Aestheticism will have a corrupting influence on Dorian’s character. Later, when Lord Henry Wotton comes to visit, he tells Dorian that “All art is quite useless” and that the only thing that matters is beauty (Wilde 25).

This makes Dorian think that he doesn’t need to worry about the consequences of his actions because, in the end, all that will matter is how beautiful he looks. This is the beginning of Dorian’s downward spiral into corruption and amorality. The novel culminates in a scene where Dorian finally realizes the true power of his portrait. He has just killed a woman who was trying to blackmail him and he is horrified by what he has done. He looks at his portrait and sees that it has changed to reflect his evil deeds.

The once-handsome face is now twisted and ugly. Dorian knows that he can never let anyone see the portrait because it would reveal his true nature. In this moment, he realizes that Aestheticism is not enough to make someone truly good. There needs to be more than just an obsession with beauty.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel about the corrupting influence of Aestheticism. Wilde uses Dorian’s character to show that Aestheticism is not enough to make someone truly good. The novel ends with Dorian realizing that he can never let anyone see his portrait because it would reveal his true nature. This is a powerful message about the dangers of valuing beauty over everything else.

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