Themes in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Themes in The Picture of Dorian Gray

1. The Purpose of Art

  • Art for Art's Sake: Wilde’s aesthetic philosophy asserts that art should exist solely for its own beauty and not serve moral or educational purposes.
  • Victorian Context: Victorian society viewed art as a tool for moral education, contrasting with Wilde’s belief in art’s autonomy.
  • Conflict in the Novel: The portrait of Dorian and the yellow book challenge Wilde’s aesthetic ideals, suggesting that art may inadvertently reveal moral truths.

2. The Supremacy of Youth and Beauty

  • Aestheticism: Wilde champions beauty as the primary value in life, rejuvenating the senses and offering an escape from harsh realities.
  • Dorian’s Obsession: Dorian’s pursuit of beauty leads him to distance himself from moral considerations, focusing instead on aesthetic pleasures.
  • High Price: The novel suggests that the pursuit of eternal youth and beauty comes at a profound moral and spiritual cost, exemplified by Dorian’s descent into corruption.

3. The Superficial Nature of Society

  • Society’s Values: Victorian society values appearance over substance, where beauty and social charm eclipse moral character.
  • Dorian’s Charisma: Despite his moral decay, Dorian remains socially accepted due to his youthful appearance and charm, illustrating society’s superficiality.
  • Moral Ambiguity: The novel critiques societal norms that prioritize appearances, suggesting a disconnect between outward respectability and inner corruption.

4. The Negative Consequences of Influence

  • Power of Influence: Dorian is profoundly affected by Basil’s portrait and Lord Henry’s hedonistic philosophy, leading him down a path of moral degradation.
  • Individualism vs. Influence: The novel warns against surrendering one’s identity to external influences, as seen in Basil’s idolization of Dorian and Dorian’s submission to Lord Henry’s worldview.
  • Destruction of Self: Characters like Basil meet tragic ends due to their intense influence on Dorian, highlighting the peril of sacrificing one’s individuality.
Study Guide

Post a Comment

Cookie Consent
We serve cookies on this site to analyze traffic, remember your preferences, and optimize your experience.
It seems there is something wrong with your internet connection. Please connect to the internet and start browsing again.
AdBlock Detected!
We have detected that you are using adblocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website, we request you to whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.
Site is Blocked
Sorry! This site is not available in your country.