Problems in Oscar Wilde’s Novel “Portrait of Dorian Gray”

The English writer, poet, playwright Oscar Wilde lived a short and tragic life. His work most fully and talentfully discourages the artistic and philosophical movement – aesthetics, which arose in England in the 70-90s of the XIX century. Advocates of aesthetics defended the principles of “art for art” and believed that literature should not fulfill a moral mission, teach goodness, justice, that it is indifferent to the problems of good and evil. Art must serve beauty.

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The theoretical principles of aesthetics were reflected in the novel “Portrait of Dorian Gray.” The author focuses on three characters: the artist Bazil Hallward, who values ​​art above all else, his friend Lord Henry, the vicious and cynical aristocrat and the young, very handsome young man Dorian Gray. The novel begins with the fact that Lord Henry comes to the workshop of Basil Hallward, where the artist works on a portrait of a young handsome man.

Soon, the model Dorian Gray himself appears. He listens with enthusiasm to the cynical conversations of Lord Henry. Self-love is a single romance that lasts a lifetime. This is how the “king of paradoxes” defines his life credo. The work on the portrait is completed, he amazes everyone with his perfection. Dorian Gray looks at him with enthusiasm and says: “If the portrait were changed, but I could remain as I am.” The moved artist gives the portrait to the sitter. Lord Henry is struck by the beauty of the young man himself, and he invites Dorian to take part in the entertainment with him.

The artist tries to warn the young man, but in vain, Dorian turns to social life. He is in love with the young actress Sybil Wayne, who inspiresly plays roles in outstanding plays, but in a poor theater. Dorian and Sybil decide to get married. The young man invites his friends to a performance with the bride. The girl is captivated by her feelings, and it seems to her that playing love on stage is in vain. The role of Juliet in the play that Hallward and Lord Henry came to watch, she fails.

The artist sympathizes with the young man, the lord cynically jokes. Dorian shouts to his bride: “You killed my love!” It seemed to him that art and reality have an inextricable link. All night he wanders the streets of London, and in the morning decides to make peace, but finds out that his words led to the suicide of Sybil. Dorian looks at his portrait and notes with horror that the first sharp wrinkle appeared on his outlined face.

Wilde then in one chapter talks about 20 years of the hero’s life. This is a story of falling in love with its beauty and soul decline. Dorian had hidden the portrait for a long time, as over time the beautiful face turned into the ugly face of the voluptuous old man. Dorian accuses the artist of what happened to his soul and kills Basil Hallward in a fit of rage, and blackmail her companion with a terrible secret, forcing him to dissolve the artist’s body in nitric acid.

This portrait is also a terrible crime. Dorian Gray is jealous of everyone, even his companion, who has found the strength to commit suicide, even Lord Henry, a cynic drowning in vices, but who believes that any crime is vulgarity. Dorian rushes to the portrait, trying to destroy him. Servants find the body of an ugly old man dressed in Dorian’s clothes, next to a portrait of a handsome young man.

Wilde defends the supreme power of art. Real life can be disgusting, but art recreates beauty, preserves it, it is not subject to either time or moral laws.


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