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Wilde moving away from a strictly Christian interpretation 
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gracefullgirll wrote:
I felt that Basil and Lord Henry represented good and evil in a general way, as well as more specifically as the conflicting desire for good and temptation for evil within everyone. Sort of like the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.

This relationship is shown at the end of Chapter 2, where Dorian is asked to choose between going to the theatre with Lord Henry and staying to eat dinner with Basil.


We can definitely view this as the conflict between good and evil, but I'm not so sure who is who.
Is Basil considered good by hiding the world from Dorian? or should I say hiding Dorian from the world? He had a purpose in keeping him naive, in order to fit his paintings. What Lord Henry did was to open the world to him, make him lose his naivety. Is this good or bad? I believe we all sin in it by educating our children to understand the world. I think wilde took it to the extreme, but all in all, it's all about growing up (well, almost..)



Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:56 pm
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Gentle Reader:
I didn't know about mise-en-abyme - thanks for that. I'll bet I can drop that on my AP exam and really impress the scorers. :D

Penelope:
I'm not really sure about people's characters showing in their faces. In many cases I've found this to be true, however I've known several people with very severe faces who turned out to be friendly and jovial. Perhaps by and large, though, you're right. I lack the perspective to have a firm opinion about this.

Merav:
That's an interesting way to look at it. I suppose perhaps complete innocence is almost as undesirable as corruption. Almost. Maybe a happy medium is the best way to go about things - not complete naievity, but not the total abandonment of restraint and compassion.



Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:54 pm
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One more post ought to do it.

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grace:

Quote:
I'm not really sure about people's characters showing in their faces. In many cases I've found this to be true, however I've known several people with very severe faces who turned out to be friendly and jovial.


This is true, and isn't it even more alarming when someone looks sweet and angelic and they turn out to be old crabs? But I think I trend to read peoples' faces, more often their eyes. You know the old saying about the eyes being the windows of the soul. That is what I find hard on here, talking heart to heart but not being able to see the other person's facial expression. So if they have had a real gruelling day, and I start one of my diatribes, I worry because, in real life I wouldn't do that to another person. Or, if they are feeling upset about something I've posted, I can't see their expression to smooth over the cracks. It's a bit inhibiting.

Merev, I want to talk to you about the good and evil and passing on our 'knowledge/wisdom' to our children.....wrt Dorian. But I've got to go to work now. I'll be back tonight, but I bet Mary Lupin could make a better fist of it than I. So maybe when I come home this afternoon, Mary will have elucidated on this. :idea:


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Tue Apr 07, 2009 3:42 am
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Post Good v evil gg and characters p showing in faces
Graceful girl - you say you think Lord Henry could be seen as representing evil, and Basil representing good. I think it really could be read like that. Basil does remind me of a godlike figure - wanting to keep his model innocent, as God wants to keep Adam and Eve innocent in the Garden of Eden, but powerless to do anything when he succumbs to temptation and is corrupted. Lord Henry could be seen as a devil figure - wishing to corrupt people and then standing back to watch the results.

I think this good v evil debate is mixed up with OW's debate about how aesthetics fit into the world. Beauty is seen as representing goodness and purity; a beautiful person is seen as being innocent. But the quest for eternal beauty has a lot of negative side effects in the book. I feel the debate is left in an open ended way.

Penelope - you talk about how people's characters show in their faces. Speaking from a personal point of view, I think there is a type of aesthetic beauty that typicaly "attractive" people can have. But I think another side to beauty is how people's expressions change their faces. I am always drawn to people that smile a lot. And I think as people age, these expressions actually change the shape of peole's faces - "smile lines" being one example.



Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:05 am
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Post I just finished the novel
so here are some thoughts:

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wilde stated that “Basil Hallward is what I think I am; Lord Henry what the world thinks me; Dorian what I would like to be – in other ages, perhaps.”

Wilde identifies with Basil – the artist, the creator; Basil is infatuated with the beauty of Dorian, Wilde was also a lover of the beautiful and as mentioned above, part of the aesthetics movement of his time. However, I find the novel to be more of a polemic against the strictures of that society and its rigid rules, such as when during Basil's final confrontation with Dorian he states: “My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite... England is bad enough I know, and English society is all wrong. That is the reason I want you to be fine.” Hedonism in its various forms was perfectly acceptable in aristocratic circles as long as the outward appearance of Victorian principles was maintained, and I read this novel as a criticism of the world in he lived. Thus the “the terrible pleasure of a double life” Wilde has Dorian experience.

Perhaps because I found the homoerotic references oblique that I felt its main themes both a judgment against Victorian religious and moral rules of the day as well as an espousal of a balanced “aetheticism”. Was it autobiographical when Wilde has Basil, once again in his final confrontation with Dorian, asking: “Why is your friendship so fatal to young men? ... that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. ... Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England with a tarnished name.... What about the young Duke of Perth? What sort of life has he got now? What gentleman would associate with him?”

Wilde also says that the world thinks he is like Lord Henry, and I feel that through Henry, Wilde elucidates his own feelings about the upper class Victorian society in which he lived, and of which he was very much a part. When Dorian is going through his “King Solomon” phase, trying out intellectual, tactile, olfactory and other pleasures, he remembers Lord Henry saying that a new Hedonism was needed as a balance between “asceticism that deadens the senses, as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them”.

The grotesque changes in the portrait seem to me to reflect that society's views (not much changed in many parts even now) of the numerous experiences Dorian goes through: vile or disgusting in the eyes of the Church or proper upper-class society, with no way to maintain one's standing in society and at the same time live as they wanted, i.e. as a gay man. Thus the duplicitous life, and the killing of all such “vile” acts at the end of the novel.



Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:17 pm
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One more post ought to do it.

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Boheme:

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Was it autobiographical when Wilde has Basil, once again in his final confrontation with Dorian, asking: “Why is your friendship so fatal to young men? ... that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. ... Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England with a tarnished name.... What about the young Duke of Perth? What sort of life has he got now? What gentleman would associate with him?”


It would seem that Dorian was something of a 'femme fatale' creation. Guilty of the same crimes as 'la belle dames sans merci'. An ugly trait in either sex.

Boheme:

Quote:
However, I find the novel to be more of a polemic against the strictures of that society and its rigid rules, such as when during Basil's final confrontation with Dorian he states: “My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite... England is bad enough I know, and English society is all wrong. That is the reason I want you to be fine.”



I think perhaps there is some self-mockery in the above phrase:

Quote:
This duplicity reflects Wilde's own life. On the one hand, he was a respectable man, married with two children--on the other, he was paying off blackmailers and having sex with rent boys. Wilde's double life is reflected in his portrayal of homosexuality as sensuous and attractive, but also sinful, something to hide.


He also said that the one charm about marriage was that it made a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.

Well, I would retort to that 'You speak for yourself, Oscar!!'

And my least favourite quote:

Quote:
'Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.' He wanted a society in which everyone would he free to express themselves.


Wickedness most certainly is not a myth. And he 'expressed' himself by buying sex with many boys under the age of 18. 'A love that dare not speak its name'. .....I don't think there was much 'love' involved.

However, I don't see it as any different from the use of female underage prostitutes. .....which was a much more 'accepted' form of indulgence.

The good thing was that Oscar was brave enough to bring it out into the open for discussion.......eventually. ;-)


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Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:05 am
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