The Influences of Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray

1582 Words May 9th, 2004 7 Pages
The Influences of Oscar Wilde

Throughout his life Oscar Wilde had many strong influences exerted upon him. During his early childhood his mother influenced him and into college some of his professors and certain philosophers left a substantial impression upon him. Into adulthood these influences leaked out in his writing. These influences gave him ample ideas for writing The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde's study of the Hellenistic ideals of Epicurus, his coddled lifestyle as a child and his devotion to the movement of Aesthetics and Moral Ambiguity have produced one of the most astounding works of horror fiction.

Oscar Wilde' more effeminate attitude toward life and the way he looked at beauty can be attributed to his mother, Speranza.
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"But the most important influence at Oxford was Walter Pater, Fellow at Brasenose College and the writer of the sensational Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873). Pater'S skepticism and the belief that followed, that the study of one's private experience is more fruitful than the study of a chaotic external world, represented an exciting contrast to conventional social and moral wisdom. For a sensitive young undergraduate like Wilde to learn that the aim of life is to cultivate the deepest response to what is beautiful profound, or curious is to place in front of him an irresistibly attractive way of life."(Ericksen 17) This indicates that Pater was a direct influence on Wildes insatiable love for beauty which spilled over into The Picture of Dorian Gray.

During his college years Wilde also came across the teaching of Epicurus, a Greek philosopher who lived from 342-270 B.C.E. and taught that pleasure was the highest good. He was "active during the Hellenistic period" and "had a defining influence on those defined as Aesthetes and Decadents, particularly Walter Pater and his occasional disciple Oscar Wilde."(Terpening 1) The Victorian aesthetes, such as Wilde and Pater concerned themselves with sense-perception, wholeness, and the soul. It was the belief of Wilde that "the exterior beauty of a man conceals inner moral decrepitude to those who do not contemplate in earnest . . . Dorian Gray's
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