Aestheticism In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1453 Words6 Pages
Oscar Wilde was a known supporter of Aestheticism, a movement in which there are no morals to be found in art and where life is meant to be lived in pursuit of passion with no room or regard for moral uprightness. Wilde lived a very flamboyant life, and most critics would agree that his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, highlights this lifestyle which focuses on surrendering to one’s temptations. A closer look at the work, however, instead brings the reader to a different conclusion. The harrowing tale of Dorian Gray’s rise and fall is used as a criticism of the Aesthetic Movement, which gives way to the idea of surrendering to one’s whims as thoughtlessly as one would like, and instead draws attention to the direct relationship between art and morality. Dorian Gray’s tragedy is so incredibly heartbreaking because at the beginning of his story, the protagonist is pure and unadulterated. Lord Henry corrupting the young man and introducing him to a life where beauty prevails over all is what ultimately leads to Dorian taking his own life. Lord Henry, the poster boy for the aesthetic movement, shows the impressionable young man a new point of view in life, one where a man must abandon an ethical stance in order to truly live his life to the fullest. Interestingly enough, “ a great irony... informs Lord Henry's character, for no matter how extravagant his language, he seems to do relatively little” (Gillespie). Henry instead only sprinkles wayward advice, by telling his new
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