Comparison Between The Picture Of Dorian Gray And Vanity Fair

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The Picture of Dorian Gray and Vanity Fair, without a doubt, differ in many ways, which I will revisit in more detail later on, and yet - art, sin and vanity seem to be the leading motifs in both. Art is a mirror of society and its values, and like with any subjective reflection, what it shows differs from person to person. The first novel revolves around a portrait of a young aristocrat Dorian Gray and the second is a ‘puppet play’ that is the aristocratic world of ‘vanity fair’. This essay shall explore art as both the mirror and the coping mechanism of society in the way it is presented in these two novels – where a spectator is never certain whether they are looking at a real reflection or an idealised image, which leads to unequivocal feeling of personal involvement and dread. Oscar Wilde in The Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray introduces the reader to the idea of l’art pour l’art, however, the very picture of Dorian Gray is a reflection of Dorian’s sins; due to this and the ever-present idea of aestheticism in the novel, Dorian himself may be the art for the sake of art. Vanity Fair is introduced to the reader as a puppet play, a form of theatre art, and in this case, a critique of the aristocratic world. As in Wilde’s novel, we can say one of the central characters of Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp is an art piece, a daughter of a singer and a painter, eloquent, beautiful and venomous – she is the perfect reflection of schemes and ill morality that ‘vanity fair’ is.

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