The Picture Of Dorian Gray Ekphrasis Analysis

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Ekphrasis and Aestheticism in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde was a famous author and playwright, well known for both his literary works and the drama that surrounded his personal life. Born in Dublin in 1854, Wilde attended both Trinity College and Magdalen College, distinguishing himself early on as a classically talented individual. Upon graduation, he moved to London to pursue a literary career. With his charm and exuberance, he was quickly accepted into many prestigious social circles. His friend Frank Harris described him as “not only an admirable talker but […] invariably smiling, eager, full of life and the joy of living, and above all given to unmeasured praise of whatever and whoever pleased him (Harris 4).” As
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The various instances all have different functions within the text, and have different effects on the meaning of the novel as a whole.
The most obvious and widely recognized example of ekphrasis in Wilde’s novel is the actual portrait of Dorian Gray. The text describes and recreates the image in the mind of the reader, adhering closely to the “traditional” ekphrasis. Example. While the portrait is described fairly briefly, the reader is given enough information to easily conjure up the likeness of it. However, Wilde does not like to make things simple. Even though he uses the basic form of ekphrasis, he adds an element of complication when he introduces the portrait’s transformations. He describes the slow decline of the beloved painting from that of a beautiful young man to that of a decrepit sinner. Each description of the work is a new image that the reader sees. Rather than showing the transformation of the piece, Wilde instead fragments the reader’s perception of it by describing it stage by stage, as Dorian examines it periodically. Each new description is more gruesome than the last, and each time the reader is a bit more disgusted with the figure in the
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In order to create ekphrasis, one must be able to describe a work of art with enough essence to convey the feeling it creates. In order to truly capture the essence of art, one must have an interaction with it that transcends sensuality. After all, the purpose of ekphrasis is to achieve the same effect through a different medium. There is no way to translate a visual experience into a textual experience without putting into it a part of the experience itself. Even the traditionally aesthetic experience of beauty causes us to see art differently. One may see a gorgeous portrait of a woman and be immediately reminded of an old lover, or view a landscape and be transported to their favorite hiking trail. The idea of art as only beautiful may sound credible at first, but in The Picture of Dorian Gray it is disproven by the very text
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