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Posted on July 23rd, 2012, by

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as the Milestone of Immoral Aestheticism and Reflection of Author’s Views on the Role of Art

Oscar Wilde was probably one of the most provocative and controversial artist of his epoch. In fact, his literary works revolutionized English and world literature of the epoch. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Oscar Wilde was disenchanted with the severe reality and he attempted to find the salvation in the realm of beauty. His literary works, especially The Picture of Dorian Gray, reflect his personal views on art and its role in society. Basically, the author develops his concept of Immoral Aestheticism through the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray where he depicts the inevitable conflict between the real life and art. In fact, the fate of the main character reveals the extent, to which the real life is destructive. The moral degradation of the main character and his tragic and mystical death symbolize the fatal impact of real life on originally pure and innocent individual. This tragedy is contrasted to the beauty and eternity of art, which the picture of Dorian Gray symbolizes. Moreover, the picture symbolizes the mystical power of art, which is able to influence actions of people.

At the same time, he was convinced that the moral degradation of English society, which he constituted an essential part of, would lead to the devaluation of morality. This is why he rejected the idea that an artist should create morally valuable works or works that would convey some moral message to the mass audience. Instead, he insisted on the concept of Immoral Aestheticism, according to which art could not be moral or immoral but it could be good or bad, beautiful or ugly. As a result, he created literary works, for instance The Picture of Dorian Gray, where he made the ugliness of the real world and the beauty of art the main ideological message to his audience.

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