This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Dandyism In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

4021 words - 17 pages

When Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray was published in 1890 it was on the receiving end of some very hostile reviews (Mighall ix). It was so ill-received not because it was poorly written, but rather because of the ideas it presented, ideas which were seen as dangerous and polluting. The reason was that it called into question the bourgeois constructions of masculinity which were considered the norm in nineteenth century England. In previous centuries, the country had been under the control of the landed aristocracy, however, over the course of the nineteenth century, changing political and economic conditions provided opportunities for the rise of the middle class in English ...view middle of the document...

Dorian Gray is the hedonist, a synthesis of the artist and the dandy, whose purpose is to disrupt the middle class ethos as it is embodied in bourgeois constructions of masculinity.
Before we can consider the critical nature of Dorian Gray in detail, we must understand the context of the period. The middle class in England had been increasing in numbers and power since the previous century. The changing economy during the eighteenth century had led to the emergence of an urban middle class of merchants and business owners, and from this, a distinctly bourgeois identity began to develop. The middle class eventually grew to have tremendous influence in society and its values and culture became more prominent, bringing about reform in English society, which had been founded in a model ruled by the aristocracy in previous centuries (Shepherd 284). The middle class continued to grow over the following decades. The industrial revolution provided opportunities for social advancement as men could increase their means through hard work. Along with social advancement, middle class men were given a say in the political system when the 1834 Reform Act granted them the right to vote. The Corn Laws – which had protected the interests of landowners by imposing tariffs on imported grains and cereals – were repealed in 1834, leading to the development of free trade and the end of economic dominance among the landed aristocracy. These factors combined to create a quickly rising middle class which had gained dominance in British society towards the end of the nineteenth century. These changes ushered in a new age of bourgeois ideology which prompted some to declare the bourgeoisie to be the new aristocracy (Weiner 71).
Accompanying the ascension of the bourgeois to the dominant social class were their values, which eventually became societal norms. The middle class value system could be considered in two categories. There were the private values, based on respectability and good character, such as religious piety, temperance, thrift and familial devotion and there were also the more public virtues based in economics: hard work, progress and capitalism (Danahay 7). Middle class conceptions of masculinity were born out of these values. Victorian masculinity was intrinsically bound to the concept of family devotion through the Protestant Work Ethic. This was a philosophy grounded in the belief that all men are compelled to work because it is the will of God. It also subscribed to the idea that salvation can only occur if one abstains from excess and indulgence, sins which detracted from wholesomeness and contributed to indolence, distracting men from their God-given compulsion to work. The ideal man of the Victorian period was a married man who further demonstrated his masculinity by supporting his family through the adoption of the Protestant Work Ethic (Danahay 7). The idea of the man as the family wage earner was extremely important in a society responsible...

Other Essays Like Dandyism in the Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray 5

838 words - 4 pages The Picture of Dorian Gray   Harry is Pan, the piper who leads Dorian on his path to destruction, decadence, and moral decay. As with Pan, the merry and much-loved god, the victim of the god's attention does not fare well. As Pan had Syrinx and Echo, Harry has Dorian. Pan caused madness and panic with his passions; Harry seems to have had the same result with Dorian. Wilde reveals much of Harry's character in the writing. His is the

The Picture of Dorian Gray: Research and Analysis Paper

1028 words - 5 pages The Picture Of Dorian Gray: Research and Analysis Paper Few ideas are considered important when discussing the Victorian era; two main ideas stand out throughout the period, which are the importance of art and perfection in a personality. One Historian said, “The Victorian era ushered in great literary and poetic works from famous artist who published their masterpieces in the Americas. Aestheticism, a movement emphasizing artistic values

Essay on Picture of Dorian Gray: A Jungian Analysis

970 words - 4 pages   The Picture of Dorian Gray begins with Basil describing his fascination with Dorian, and ends with his masterpiece reverting to its original splendour. He describes his reaction to Dorian in these words: "When our eyes met, I felt I was growing pale. A curious sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my

‘the Novel’s Contrasting Settings Portray a Gulf Between Social Classes in Victorian Society.’ How Far and in What Ways Do You Agree with This View of the Picture of Dorian Gray?

1010 words - 5 pages ‘The novel’s contrasting settings portray a gulf between social classes in Victorian society.’ How far and in what ways do you agree with this view of The Picture of Dorian Gray? The novel’s contrasting settings do portray a gulf between social classes in Victorian society but also represents the dualism in The Picture Of Dorian Gray. Wilde specifically chooses to pick two opposite settings, the East End and the West End, and ignores the

Steinbeck's Picture Of Life On The Ranch

1436 words - 6 pages Steinbeck's Picture of Life on the Ranch Works Cited Missing I think that Steinbeck's picture of life on the ranch was mainly pessimistic, but it still held a little hope. The story took place in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. The economic situation was in a terrible state. The unemployment problem was so serious

Picture of the Insight to Moral Issues

640 words - 3 pages (Cover page) TITLE: DATE: NAME: TEACHERS NAME: TASK DESCRIPTION: DATE DUE: Opening paragraph: Subheadings: Christianity as the major religious tradition: In 1947, majority of Australia population was Anglo-Celtic (either English, Scottish, Irish, Walsh or British) and most of them were identified as Christians (88%). The decrease of Christian and the rise of other religions or non-religious population was due to

The 1992 Best Picture Of The Year, Unforgiven, Is A

2370 words - 10 pages The 1992 best picture of the year, Unforgiven, is a tribute to the ever-popular western, it shows aspects of racism, feminism, ageism, and revenge, areas all coinciding with the society in 1992. Unforgiven was a highly acclaimed movie. It was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and won 4 for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. It showed a negligible amount of racism and showed the feminist ideals of the power of

The Ultimate Betrayal: Cordelia Gray, Ronald Callender, and the Establishment of an Anti-Heroin

1608 words - 7 pages The Ultimate Betrayal: Cordelia Gray, Ronald Callender, and the Establishment of an Anti-heroin In the contemporary literary scene, heroes enjoy an increased moral complexity. Mid-20th century playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard have given viewers anti-heroic protagonists recognizable by their lack of identity and determination. Film noir detective stories of the mid-20th century have seen characters such as Sam Spade, who

In the Country of Men

949 words - 4 pages "In the Country of Men" Suleiman is a boy poised to enter “the country of men”. Discuss. In the Novel In the Country of Men, Hisham Matar, explores and shares his childhood experience in the 1970's during the revolution in Libya. The time when men overpowered and completely dominated women. The title itself describes Libya as a country that belongs to men where women are constantly objectified. We see Suleiman wanting to become a man as soon

In the Midst of Time

2117 words - 9 pages artist runs up to me and grabs me tightly on the arm. “Where on earth have you been?” The main roles of Romeo, Juliet, Friar Lawrence, and Mercutio were told to come three hours earlier, while the smaller roles could have an hour off. Rosie’s question was obviously rhetorical; I mean who would want to know I had to go to my brother’s football match in the morning? Both Rosie and Brianna start rubbing on layers of foundation which makes my face look

Communicate in the Language of the People

912 words - 4 pages , emotions and being understood. As a result they are more thoughtful and internally alert. Our central intentions and perspectives are different, and those differences play themselves out in numerous ways throughout our culture. This is difficult even by the dichotomy of our internal versus external focus. “Mars/Venus” author John Gray says this difference is apparent very early on in children. When young boys have to deal with life

Related Papers

Influences In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1304 words - 6 pages . b. Faults in idolization and their consequences. IV. Art can exert a detrimental influence. a. Dorian’s realization of his own beauty because of the portrait. b. The portrait’s scars looming over Dorian. V. Conclusion Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray depicts a character that barters his soul for eternal youth, and in turn, engages in murder, scandal, and drug abuse. The fall of the protagonist

Beauty In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1001 words - 5 pages In Oscar Wilde's novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, beauty is depicted as the driving force in the lives of the three main characters, Dorian, Basil and Lord Henry. Dorian, the main character, believes in seizing the day. Basil, the artist, admires all that is beautiful in life. Lord Henry, accredited ones physical appearance to the ability of achieving accomplishments in life. Beauty ordains the fate of Dorian, Basil, and Lord Henry. The novel

Vanity In "The Picture Of Dorian Gray" And "Frankenstein"

417 words - 2 pages "The quality or state of being vain; want of substance to satisfy desire; emptiness; unsubstantialness; unrealness; falsity", is the definition of vanity according to Webster's revised unabridged dictionary. Vanity destroys lives. In the novels "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, "The Mayor of Casterbridge" by Thomas Hardy, and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde, one can see the way vanity destroys the lives of a character.In Frankenstein

The Picture Of Dorian Gray 3

1511 words - 7 pages The only novel by Oscar Wilde, one of the well-known characters of British literature, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is a brilliant work from the end of the 19th century containing horror features. The narrative is set in London and the main characters are: Dorian Gray, a handsome young man, who wishes to be young forever; Lord Henry Wotton, a witty and very sociable man, who plays a vital role in Dorian’s life; an artist, Basil Hallward, who is