Theme Of Aestheticism In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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Understanding both Poe and Wilde’s narrative styles is extremely important in fully understanding the texts and the authors behind those texts, for example on one hand Poe throws the reader into an already finished story in ‘William Wilson’, while in The Picture of Dorian and Gray Wilde’s use of aestheticism is undeniable. However unusually for Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray is also Gothic, this interesting departure from Wilde’s usual aesthetic style has been the subject of much debate and discussion among scholars, nonetheless for Sucur in The Picture of Dorian and Gray “the Gothic is dealt with from an aesthetic perspective”, (Sucur 2007, n.p.) yet the question still remains why would Wilde chose to depart from his successful formula of…show more content…
Ultimately in The Picture of Dorian and Gray Wilde is writing against the ‘Paterian’ aesthetic of the day (Scheible 2014, 132) because he is using the Gothic tropes of doubling taken from Poe. Wilde’s aestheticism is foundationally different because he is Irish, thus it allows him to disconnect himself from the framework of British aestheticism, which the likes of Pater followed so rigorously. His detachment from the ‘aesthetic literary rules’ meant he was able to launch a full-scale attack on the British bourgeois class corruption through vice. Through the use of his own framework Wilde’s Irishness becomes of the upmost importance, as he creates his own unique ‘Irish aesthetic’. Through this aesthetic Wilde battles with art versus reality to highlight the classic positions of British imperialism, colonizer versus the colonialized. Wilde’s Irishness gave him the unique perspective and opportunity to comment and write about the colonialized experience first hand, therefore his authentic voice is different, his truths which were true then still hold true today. For the modern reader Wilde’s aestheticism can be read as a movement towards Irish nationalism, because The Picture of Dorian Gray is a text that combines notions of aestheticism with ethics. Wilde’s clear disgust at British societies attempt to create permanent categories of otherness result is his turn towards the Gothic. For Riquelme “Wilde has merged the aesthetic with issues that regularly arise in Gothic writing” (2000, 618) his use of doubling creates an uncanny feeling evoked by the depiction of the dominant versus the marginalised. Through his use of Gothic aestheticism Wilde highlights the dangers and threat of British culture, (Riquelme, 2000, 614) the motif of the supernatural imposes a threat to the empire from both within and without. Ultimately Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is what Ellmann called a “tragedy of
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