Dorian Gray The Perception Of Essay

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The ultimate sin was killing the only person who ever saw true beauty in him. For its time, this book was extremely well done, and the writing cannot be faulted in the light of Victorian English literature. The story, in fact, is still a good tale, but the long passages of exposition, even in the guise of conversation, makes it difficult for today's audience to read. It is so full of discussions of philosophy and morality that I have to suspect that it was intentionally done to point out the excessive moralizing in much Victorian literature. Nearly every rule of political correctness is broken by one or more of the characters. Yet the story underlying the whole is compelling. Since reading and discussion of literature was a major pastime of the day the books holds its own. However, since we seldom see ourselves in an unflattering light in the literature we read, most readers of the time would not have seen themselves in this story. Wilde was a master of dry humor and wit. I doubt seriously, from reading his other works, that any of the contents in this book...

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Therefore we have to see it on two levels. The story as a work of art for its time must have been well received, as it conformed to the norms of his society.
However, in conforming, Wilde has created a totally different work of art. It is a marvelously well done piece of subterfuge. Many true artists, writers and poets of his day were harshly criticized by an unforgiving public which wanted to see morality in its idols. At the same time, they enjoyed a good story about how sin will be punished. Oscar Wilde created a story which had to be accepted, because it contained all the morality they sought. All immoral or otherwise unacceptable statements were made by antagonists, so they did not reflect on the author. That there was really far too much moralizing and far too many conflicting messages probably slipped by the Victorian audience. However, from our perspective it is much easier to see. This work of art actually uses message to make a statement of its own and I think it was a good joke that must have had Wilde secretly chuckling.

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