The Picture of Dorian Gray a novel by Oscar Wilde Novel Background




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TitleThe Picture of Dorian Gray a novel by Oscar Wilde Novel Background
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The Picture of Dorian Gray

A novel by Oscar Wilde

Novel Background

  • Published in 1890

  • Published initially in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine

  • Only novel by Oscar Wilde

    • 1854-1900
    • Irish writer and poet
    • Popular London playwright
    • The Importance of Being Earnest


Aestheticism

  • Focused on beauty

  • ‘Art for art’s sake’

  • Meaning sacrificed for looks

  • Aesthetic values trump sociopolitical themes



Hedonism

  • School of thought that argues pleasure is the only intrinsic good

  • People yearn for what they like rather than what is right

  • From the Greek word for ‘delight’

  • Hedonists try to maximize net pleasure (pleasure – pain)

  • Lord Henry seeks beauty and fulfillment of the senses



Characters

  • Dorian Gray – young, narcissistic man

  • Basil Hallward – painter who becomes obsessed with Dorian

  • Lord Henry Wotton – intrigued with Dorian’s beauty

  • Sibyl Vane – talented actress

  • James Vane – Sibyl’s brother; sailor

  • Alan Campbell – chemist

  • Lord Fermor – Lord Henry’s uncle

  • Victoria, Lady Wotton – Lord Henry’s wife



Guiding Questions

  • How are good and evil portrayed?

  • What are the consequences of hedonism?

  • What is Wilde’s writing style?

  • What is the difference between fascination and actually caring for something?

  • Compare and contrast character motives.

  • How is aestheticism shown within the novel?



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