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The theme of decadence in The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde

Staring from the definition found in the dictionary, the decadence is a literary movement especially of late 19th century !rance and "ngland characteri#ed by refined aestheticism, artifice, and the $uest for ne% sensations& 1 'n decadence, important is not necessarily %hat is seen, but the hermeneutics( %hat man feels %hen he sees the creative result of this feeling& 't is the current that re$uires a co operation from the public to the artistic %or) for the purposes of re creation& The image proposed by the decadents is a violent one, an image that shoc)s by having a fascinating and terrifying po%er& 't is a image that stimulates and also stimulates& To achieve such effects, these images *%hether they are painted, engraved or created through the %ord+ should be %andered as much as possible from the usual& The tric) lies in the colour, in the innovation, in the %ay of using the beauty of the ,e%elry and the gems& !or the decadents not life is devoted to art but art is devoted to life, life is art& Decadence shared in the creation of space for the later ascension of an internationally oriented avant garde- and lastly, Decadence also re$uired the creator to be independent of the surrounding society, thus ma)ing it one of the first manifestations of an alternative subculture& Decadence in the visual arts represented the dynamic duality of order and chaos, the painful moment of the birth of a ne% life and a ne% structure&

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The same feeling is shared by the dandy, Dorian Grey, the character in the novel 7The Picture of Dorian Grey8 by Oscar Wilde& !or his decadent spirit, as it seen in his literary %or)s 0uysmans or Wilde, the love for the artificial is nothing else but the love for perfection, %here the time does not leave mar)s& They are dandys %ho live in a %orld made by themselves, they create their o%n lives as if their lives %ere some asocial sho%s, turned the %rong %ay, and loving the art because they replaced their lives %ith it& The provo)ed and induced sensations are so strong that such characters can not distinguish the reality from art and vice versa anymore, as probably happened %ith the decadent artists %ho lived %ith such intensity of feelings, mista)ing their o%n lives %ith the art%or)s& One of the %or)s in %hich the decadent movement ma)es its presence felt is in The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde, considered to be his most significant %or)& The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel by Oscar Wilde, appearing as the lead story in 2ippincott9s :onthly :aga#ine on .4 ;une 1<94, printed as the ;uly 1<94 issue of this maga#ine&= The maga#ine9s editors feared the story %as indecent as submitted, so they censored roughly >44 %ords, %ithout Wilde9s )no%ledge, before publication& Wilde later revised the story for boo) publication, ma)ing substantial alterations, deleting controversial passages, adding ne% chapters and including an aphoristic Preface %hich has since become famous in its o%n right&? Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde9s protagonist is a character dominated by negativity, leading a life of debauchery& 'n his case, immorality %ill have tragic conse$uences& Sin seems to fascinate him, he also

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dra%s in this )ind of life other young people li)e /drian Singleton and /lan @ampbell& 'ts immorality conse$uences %ill be also suffered by the young actress, Sibyl Dane, the one Dorian falls in love %ith and it ends by destroying her life& Seduction is follo%ed by him leaving her, a move that brings her to despair and pushes her to commit suicide& The echoes of his immoral life are heard by the high society %hich he fre$uents, but the only thing Dorian Grey cares about is his o%n self, his beauty and his youth& 0is moral distortion is associated %ith the distortion of the picture made by his friend, Easil 0all%ard, this being the only element %hich has a connection bet%een the t%o lives Dorian lives& 0ere is sho%n the eternal theme of Fbeauty %ithout age and life %ithout deathF& Easil 0all%ard is the one that lin)s the t%o lives, the t%o faces of Dorian, %hich at first is innocent, passive, unconscious of his beauty and strength, then he transforms under the influence of 2ord 0enry& 0is conception is hedeonistic& 'f Easil is the art creator, the picture8s creator, 2ord 0enry is the creator of Dorian8s ne% aspect& The eCperience of the sin is finished by )illing his friend, Easil 0all%ard& 0is act does not stirs remorse, his only concern being to erase the traces in order to avoid getting discovered& 0is diabolism can be compared to the one of Des "sseintes , %hich attempts to transform a young man, /uguste 2anglois, into an assassin, through vice, but the difference is that the 0uysmans9s character has not the po%er to commit a murder himself& The murder is follo%ed by the destruction of the portrait& / strong element related to the decadent movement is the dandyism, the social phenomenon, meaning a man %ho places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued %ith the appearance of

nonchalance in a cult of Self&> / first determination of dandyism is sho%n %hen old 2ord !ermor says to his nephe% 0enry Wotton FWell, 0arry, %hat brings you out so earlyG ' thought you dandies never got up till t%o, and %ere not visible till five&F H 2ord 0enry Wotton is fully a dandy, most of the $ualities found at him& 0is modality of choosing the people he comes into strengthens the claim that 0enry is a dandy, F ' choose my friends for their good loo)s, my ac$uaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects&I5 The first principle of aestheticism, the philosophy of art by %hich Oscar Wilde lived, is that art serves no other purpose than to offer beauty& Throughout The Picture of Dorian Gray, beauty reigns& 't is a means to revitali#e the %earied senses, as indicated by the effect that Easil8s painting has on the cynical 2ord 0enry& 't is also a means of escaping the brutalities of the %orld( Dorian distances himself, not to mention his consciousness, from the horrors of his actions by devoting himself to the study of beautiful thingsJmusic, ,e%els, rare tapestries& 'n a society that pri#es beauty so highly, youth and physical attractiveness become valuable commodities& 2ord 0enry reminds Dorian of as much upon their first meeting, %hen he laments that Dorian %ill soon enough lose his most precious attributes& 'n @hapter Seventeen, the Duchess of :onmouth suggests to 2ord 0enry that he places too much value on these things- indeed, Dorian8s eventual demise confirms her suspicions& !or although beauty and youth remain of utmost importance at the end of the novelJthe portrait is, after all, returned to its


@ult de soi mKme @harles Eaudelaire, FLe DandyF, noted in Susann Schmid, "Byron and Wilde: The Dandy in the Public SphereF in ;ulie 0ibbard et al& , eds& The 'mportance of Leinventing Oscar( versions of Wilde during the last 144 years .44. H Oscar, Wilde MThe Picture of Dorian Grey M , @hapter = 5 Oscar, Wilde MThe Picture of Dorian GreyI, @hapter 1

original formJthe novel suggests that the price one must pay for them is eCceedingly high& 'ndeed, Dorian gives nothing less than his soul&< The Picture of Dorian Grey reunites so many reasons and literary themes as the theme of the mirror, the theme of dual personality, %hich %ere common even to the Lomantics, but Oscar Wilde relates them in the sphere of decadent art %hich eCpresses through the debate about the morality contained in this novel& /ll the obscure and stylistic elements of the decadent literature %or) as a mean of escape from traditionalism and thus to create a ne% form of art that is more concerned %ith the earthly essence of people and ho% it affects their personality( M The ideal which the hero aims to establish by cutting the plenary li ing without ethical or religious inhibitions! to all sensations! through a perfect harmoni"ation between affect and intellect! by accepting the supremacy of senses as a rule of life focuses on the formula " # $ew %edonism "& M9

Wor)s @ited FDecadent movement Wi)ipedia, the free encyclopedia&F Wi'ipedia! the free

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encyclopedia& B&p&, n&d& Web& 1< ;an& .41=& Phttp(33en&%i)ipedia&org3%i)i3DecadentQmovementR& "Cpers, Bominis& F0edonism&F #ngelfire: Welcome to #ngelfire& B&p&, n&d& Web& 1< ;an& .41=& Phttp(33%%%&angelfire&com3a#3eCperiment3hedonism&htmlR& FSpar)Botes( The Picture of Dorian Gray( Themes, :otifs 6 Symbols&F Spar'$otes: Today(s )ost Popular Study Guides& B&p&, n&d& Web& 1< ;an& .41=& Phttp(33%%%&spar)notes&com3lit3doriangray3themes&htmlR& FThe @onflict Eet%een /estheticism and :orality in Oscar WildeSTUVUWs The Picture of Dorian Gray UX Writing Program UX Eoston Yniversity&F Boston *ni ersity& B&p&, n&d& Web& 1< ;an& .41=& Phttp(33%%%&bu&edu3%ritingprogram3,ournal3past issues3issue 13duggan3R& Wilde, Oscar, "dgar :ansfield, and ;ames 2& Thielman& The picture of Dorian Gray& Paris( @harles @arrington &&&, 194<& Print&