Oscar Wilde 's The Picture Of Dorian Gray Essay

Oscar Wilde 's The Picture Of Dorian Gray Essay

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In Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the character Basil Hallward is enamored with Dorian Gray’s youth and innocence. This love for Dorian is an example of Greek love or boy love that would have been popular during the late Victorian age, especially with the decadence. However, this love would have been frowned upon and in the case of Wilde, legally held against him.
In the first chapter of the novel, Basil and Harry began speaking about Dorian. Basil tells Harry of his feelings toward Dorian:
The merely visible presence of this lad—for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twenty—his merely visible presence—ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body—how much that is! (Wilde 12)
Basil swoons over the young man and his perfection. He describes Dorian with words like “passion” and “romantic spirit” that tease the theme of Greek love out of the passage. In Wilde’s court case this passage is one of the many used against him. Carson, the defense attorney asks him, “Now I ask you, Mr. Wilde, do you consider that that description of the feeling of one man towards a youth just grown up was a proper or an improper feeling” (The Trials of Oscar Wilde)? To this Wilde states, “think it is the most perfect description of what an artist would feel on meeting a beautiful personality that was in some way necessary to his art and life” (The Trials of Oscar Wilde). Here Wilde avoids the question as a personal one, much like basil does when speaking about Dorian. By relating the beauty to art ...


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...n be drawn between Basil’s love of Dorian and Wilde’s love of Douglass, lends itself to be incriminating. The undertone of sexual want and fascination of the youth man’s beauty connect to the theme of boy love, which would not have helped Wilde proclaim his innocence.
The defenses use of Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, not only attempted to deem the book immoral, but more importantly, help the defense draw parallels to Basil and Wilde. The use of the novel in this way would help insure Wilde’s loss in the libel case and would make way to the other cases that would eventually lead to jail time (The Trials of Oscar Wilde). The theme of Greek love and Boy love is reflected by Basil in The Picture of Dorian Gray and by Wilde in real life. The parallel of Greek love in Basil and Wilde would only help society cast Wilde as a homosexual and his eventual guilt.

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