He was born in 1854 in Dublin. After an education at Trinity College he went studying at Magdalen College (Oxford) after winning a scolarship. After graduating he moved to London and became the spokesman of the Aesthetic Movement. In 1883 he married Constance Lloyd and had two children. The most important novel he had written was “The picture of Dorian Gray” (1891). Then Wilde started a successful career as a comedian creating plays as “Lady Windermere’s fan” or “The importance of being Earnest”. In 1895 he had been arrested and sent to prison because of his homosexual relationship with Bozie (lord Alfred Douglas), the son of the Marquess of Queensbury. In prison he wrote an autobiographical letter “De profundis” taling about his ruin as a man caused by Bozie’s selfishness. Wilde left prison in 1897 and died only after three years in 1900.
On his deathbed while drinking a glass of champagne
“ Harry” is Dorian’s tempting devil, because he makes him lose his initial ingenuousness. He talks through reversed proverbs that have no truth in and are used just to impress other people. Wilde makes Harry say them because he wants to underline his condition of fascinating but empty man that has no moral precepts.
Anyway Wilde will never blame the moral conduct of his own characters, on the contrary he will take a liking to Dorian seeing him more as a victim than as a executioner.
Is a 19 th century European movement that emphasized aesthetic values over moral and social themes. It belongs to the Anti-Victorian reaction and had post-Romantics roots. Is generally considered to have ended with the trial of Oscar Wilde. People who followed this movement believed that life had to be live intensely, following an ideal of beauty. They used the slogan “Art for Art’s Sake” and they thought that art should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages. Art was not something moral or useful and didn’t have didactic purpose (as utilitarian conception of art believed).
Dandyism (“Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” C. Baudelaire)
A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language and leisurely hobbies. Historically a dandy was often someone who imitated an aristocratic style of life despite coming from a middle class background.
Dandyism can be seen as a political protestation against the rise of levelling egalitarian principles, including nostalgic adherence to feudal or pre-industrial values, such as the ideals of “the perfect gentleman” or the “autonomous aristocrat”
The first thing to say is that both Wilde and Stevenson write during the Victorian period, in which everybody had to follow strict cultural guidelines. In both the novel we can find the theme of Victorian Compromise and its effects:
Hyde is the dark side of man (as there is a dark side in the Victorian Age), that comes out while Jekyll was trying to separates man’s part (so that both could follow two different ways and be realized in each). Stevenson anyway at the beginning shows us a moral point of view, that is totally lacking in Dorian Gray: in his point of wies there is no good or evil, as long as something satisfies your appetites you are allowed to do it.
The theme we can find in both novel is the gradual losing of control in Hyde and Gray (not the naive Dorian, but the selfish one corrupted by Lord Henry), once they are allowed to do whatever they wanted they were not able to stop anymore. When the repressed part comes out nobody can stop it.