The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

  1. 1. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras Classic Characters in English and American Literature The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890) R.Baena 15.XI.2013
  2. 2. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras Life and work of Oscar Wilde 1. Genre. Reading pact 2. Plot and structure 3. Characters 4. Symbols and Themes 5. Ethics and Aesthetics
  3. 3. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras Life Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (Dublin 1854, Paris 1900) Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford Aestheticism: English poet and critic, English essayist Walter Pater. Frank Miles, painter, and aesthete Lord Ronald Gower 1882, Lecture tour in America 1884, Marriage to Constance Lloyd 1895-1897, imprisonment with hard labour 1897-1900, Paris
  4. 4. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras Work 1881, first book of Poems 1888, The Happy Prince and Other Tales 1889, The Decay of Lying 1890, The Picture of Dorian Gray 1892, Lady Windermere’s Fan 1893, A Woman of No Importance 1895, An Ideal Husband 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest
  5. 5. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 1. Genre Novel Gothic Realism Tragedy R.L. Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, 1886 Myth of Narcissus Myth of Faust
  6. 6. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 2. Plot and structure Dramatic elements. Settings. Dialogues. Disquisitions. 1st part: 10 chapters (Lord Henry’s influence? 2nd part: 10 chapters (18 years later, his life as an adult) Turning point: “If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that –for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” (49, chapter II).
  7. 7. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 3. Characters Dorian Gray. Extremely handsome, impressionable, and wealthy young gentleman. Sells his soul to the devil. Obssesed with beauty and youth. Lord Henry Wotton. Flat character. Corruption. New Hedonism. “You never say a moral thing and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose” (Basil on Lord Henry 26). Basil Hallward. Round character. Friendship. Artist. Fatalism. Moral concerns. “Basil Hallwards is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks of me; Dorian is what I would like to be!” (Oscar Wilde)
  8. 8. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras Def. literary terms: Character: a verbal representation of a human being. Through action, speech, description, and commentary authors portray characters. Flat character undergo no change, they are like human types. Round characters do change during the story. Symbol: something (a thing, an idea or an object) that represents an abstract idea. Theme: central or dominating idea in a literary work, often an abstract concept which is made concrete through character and actions.
  9. 9. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 4. Symbols: The portrait The yellow book The opium dens Theatre Themes: The purpose of art Astheticism. Double life. Evil in human nature. Ambition (other classic characters?) Minor themes: friendship, life as drama…
  10. 10. Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 5. Ethics and Aesthetics “Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own… Was there anything so real as words?” (The Picture of DG 42). “The artist is the creator of beautiful things… No artist has ethical sympathies… All art is quite useless” (Preface to The Picture of DG) “ “My work will ultimately be recognized as a real work of art with a strong ethical lesson inherent in it” (Oscar Wilde).

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