Hedonism In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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As a writer one is greatly influenced by their personal experiences with social, historical, and cultural context within their specific time period. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray was shaped by the aspects of the world around him. The themes of the text are are influenced by morality in the Victorian Era. Throughout the Victorian Era a deeper movement was also prominent in London called Aestheticism. Aestheticism is the worship of beauty and self-fulfillment. Wilde is greatly influenced by the societal movements in the Victorian Era, therefore the theme of hedonism is prominent displaying the influence of Aestheticism in The Picture of Dorian Gray and further explaining the consequences of selfishness and self-pleasure.
The Aestheticism movement shockingly challenged all past standards of love, pleasure, and sexuality. Specifically this Victorian movement “promotes sexual… experimentation.”(Burdett) This new
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Hedonism, the seeking of self pleasure, is described by the homosexual innuendos in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The idea of homosexuality was not only unaccepted in London at this time, but also illegal, therefore it is an act of self-service with no care for the laws or others opinions. “Dorian, from the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me. I was dominated, soul, brain, and power, by you. You became to me the visible incarnation of that unseen ideal whose memory haunts us artists like an exquisite dream. I worshipped you. I grew jealous of every one to whom you spoke. I wanted to have you all to myself. ”(Wilde 83) This quote demonstrates how Wilde vigorously accepts homosexuality by displaying Basil’s intense love for Dorian. The consequences of the aestheticism movement and more specifically, self-indulgence, are not only prominent in the novel but also in Wilde’s own life.
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