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Artists and Their Muses in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Woolf's To the Lighthouse

Decent Essays
Both Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolf’s novels depict the image of an artist and their muse. Within The Picture of Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward is inspired by Dorian Gray to create his greatest work of art. While in To the Lighthouse, Lily Briscoe finds her inspiration through Mrs. Ramsay and through her art she is able to blossom into her own woman. Briscoe grows through her art while Hallward is killed because of his masterpiece. The fates of the two artists differ so vastly because of how each artist envisions the idea of legacy and how they connect to their own muse. To the Lighthouse and The Picture of Dorian Gray both present the dichotomy of legacy into male and female legacy. The women within Virginia Woolf’s novel come to see…show more content…
Mr. Ramsay’s ideation is also present within Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. The idea of legacy is clearly shown when Dorian Gray has a moment of pure envy and states, “I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die” (Wilde 29). While Mr. Ramsay desired the stagnation of his philosophical ideas and literature Dorian desires the stagnation his own of beauty. Throughout the novel both Dorian and Henry Wotton describe beauty as an ever fleeting thing that is the most vital to life. Dorian is willing to sell his soul to the devil in order to maintain his legacy of beauty. Dorian attempts to live hiding his horrid painting deep within his home, but soon the moral ugliness of the painting catches up with him and he meets his demise. Both Mr. Ramsay and Dorian Gray fail at their goals and this depicts how the male version of legacy can only end in failure. Nothing lasts forever and as Mr. Ramsay states, even the pinnacle of literature, Shakespeare will fade into nonexistence. Thus the male form of legacy pushes forward the idea of immortality while also depicting immortality as an unfeasibility. Through this mindset men are expected to desire this idea of legacy, but at the same time they are expected to fail. This ideation reinforces the Ruskinian ideal and gives women the responsibility to console the men in their lives.
Within The Portrait of Dorian Gray Basil does not have a woman within his life instead he
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