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Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 30 November 1900) was an Irish writer,

, poet, and prominent aesthete. His parents were successful Dublin intellectuals, and from an early age he was tutored at home, where he showed his intelligence, becoming fluent in French and German. He attended boarding school for six years, then matriculated to university at seventeen years of age. ReadingGreats, Wilde proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Trinity College, Dublin, then at Magdalen College, Oxford. After university, Wilde moved around trying his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems and toured America lecturing extensively on aestheticism. He then returned to London, where he worked prolifically as a journalist for four years. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde was one of the most well-known personalities of his day. He next produced a series of dialogues and essays that developed his ideas about the supremacy of art. However, it was his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray still widely read that brought him more lasting recognition. He became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London with a series of social satires which continue to be performed, especially his masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest. At the height of his fame and success, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall in a sensational series of trials. He sued his lover's father for libel, though the case was dropped at trial. After two subsequent trials, Wilde was imprisoned for two years' hard labour, having been convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. In prison he wrote De Profundis, a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, a long, terse poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.

Self-Love & The Vulnerability of Beauty: The Picture of Dorian Gray The Picture of Dorian Gray addresses more than one theme. The primary appeal of the subject of beauty, as it appears to eyes, is the main focus of the novel. Wilde reveals the tenderness of self-love, or narcissism, which sometimes fails to find an object outside itself. Dorian's beauty, unlike Basil's art and Lord Henry's social status, is more vulnerable to decay with time. But it is not this weakness of beauty to age that brings the disaster upon our protagonist. It is the consciousness of the owner of beauty to his own wealth that triggers the boundless fear of perishing fear that causes his doom. Unlike Lord Henry's ease about his rank, Dorian's angst about the ephemeral nature of his beauty is shown as the true enemy of a person's self. The philosophical boundaries of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray are too deep to track to their ends. The novel addresses the issue of self-concept as portrayed in art. Further, it connects a person's emotional response to

his/her own image. While Dorian remains young and beautiful, the mere sight of an aging picture of him is unbearably painful. It would be too presumptuous to conclude that The Picture of Dorian Gray is a work of beauty with no moralistic purpose. Wilde was not a moralist (as many of us already know) and within the book there is not much to emphasize a moral code or right conduct. But the novel, in its covert meaning, is not without a moral lesson. We can easily see that beauty is ephemeral and any attempt to deny this fact is amoral. It brings ruin as shows the case of Dorian Gray. The Supremacy of Youth and Beauty The first principle of aestheticism, the philosophy of art by which Oscar Wilde lived, is that art serves no other purpose than to offer beauty. Throughout The Picture of Dorian Gray, beauty reigns. It is a means to revitalize the wearied senses, as indicated by the effect that Basils painting has on the cynical Lord Henry. It is also a means of escaping the brutalities of the world: Dorian distances himself, not to mention his consciousness, from the horrors of his actions by devoting himself to the study of beautiful things, music, jewels, rare tapestries. In a society that prizes beauty so highly, youth and physical attractiveness become valuable commodities. Lord Henry reminds Dorian of as much upon their first meeting, when he laments that Dorian will soon enough lose his most precious attributes. In Chapter Seventeen, the Duchess of Monmouth suggests to Lord Henry that he places too much value on these things; indeed, Dorians eventual demise confirms her suspicions. For although beauty and youth remain of utmost importance at the end of the novel, the portrait is, after all, returned to its original form, the novel suggests that the price one must pay for them is exceedingly high. Indeed, Dorian gives nothing less than his soul. The Superficial Nature of Society It is no surprise that a society that prizes beauty above all else is a society founded on a love of surfaces. What matters most to Dorian, Lord Henry, and the polite company they keep is not whether a man is good at heart but rather whether he is handsome. As Dorian evolves into the realization of a type, the perfect blend of scholar and socialite, he experiences the freedom to abandon his morals without censure. Indeed, even though, as Basil warns, societys elite question his name and reputation, Dorian is never ostracized. On the contrary, despite his mode of life, he remains at the heart of the London social scene because of the innocence and purity of his face. As Lady Narborough notes to Dorian, there is little (if any) distinction between ethics and appearance: you are made to be good, you look so good.