The Picture of Dorian Gray can be defined as a symbolic representation of a dialectic between two aspects of Wilde’s personality. Dorian is an archetypal image by which both aspects are fascinated. This suggests that his behaviour symbolizes Wilde’s unconscious (i.e. unacknowledged) attitudes. Dorian is characterized by his evasiveness and his obsession with objets d’art. For example, when Basil comes to console him about Sibyl’s death, he is unwilling to discuss the matter. He does not want to admit the possibility that his behaviour was reprehensible. He tells his friend: “If one doesn’t talk about a thing, it has never happened. It is simply expression, as Harry says, that gives reality to things” (107). Later, after murdering Basil, he again seeks to avoid acknowledging what he has done: “He felt that the secret of the whole thing was not to realize the situation” (159).
Dorian escapes from every unpleasant realization by turning his attention to other things. Unwilling to admit that his actions have moral implications, he seeks refuge in art. On hearing of Sibyl’s death, he accepts an invitaton, for that very evening, to go to the opera. He learns to see life only from an aesthetic perspective. He reflects:
Form is absolutely essential to it. It should have the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that makes such plays delightful to us. (142)
The consequence of this attitude is that he finds himself increasingly “stepping outside” his experiences in order to observe them from a distance. Instead of living his experiences more intensely, he finds himself o…
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…It is worth noting that Wilde wrote of the characters in his only novel: “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be — in other ages, perhaps” (Letters, 352). Dorian personifies a conflict between Dionysian and Apollonian elements particularly fascinating to his creator. He has a passion for “the colour, the beauty, the joy of life” (40), but avoids becoming involved with any experience for fear of it causing him possible pain. Basil’s and Lord Henry’s fascination with him represents Wilde’s obsession with a young dandy whose evasiveness and pseudo-aestheticism symbolize his own unconscious fears. Works Cited
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Ed. Isobel Murray. London: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Wilde, Oscar. The Letters of Oscar Wilde. Ed. R. Hart-Davis. London: Hart-Davis, 1962.
Comparing The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor and The Flea
Comparing Wyatt’s The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor and Donne’s The Flea
Every century has its own poetry; poetry has its own personality and
aspects, especially love poems. In the sixteenth century, poems about
love were more about the court than the lover. In the next century (the
seventeenth), the poems of love were more about courting the lover. An
author from the sixteenth century, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, is well
known for his lyrics pertaining to love. An author from the seventeenth
century is John Donne, who is most famous for his love-poetry. When
comparing these two authors, the theme of love is very apparently
different. Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder’s love poems,
such as “The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor,” “bear an imprint
of a strongly individual personality. But the personality is a very
different one from John Donne’s. ”1 One of John Donne’s lyrics, “The
Flea,” is an exemplary of the seventeenth century’s love poems that have
a theme that focuses on the lover.
In the sixteenth century, the poems were obviously not written for the
lover, but for the court. The poem “The Long Love That in My Thought
Doth Harbor” expresses this point through its imagery of a battle. Not
many people would compare their love to a battle, because if they did,
it probably would not be a true love. Wyatt’s conceit is a siege
(battle), and he concentrates on the theme that the lover suffers in
this poem. Wyatt’s poems are not typical love poems; most people would
expect desire, true love winning in t…
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…found in the sixteenth century. The
seventeenth century is more open to the idea of a physical love as well
as a spiritual love. The sixteenth century focuses on love in the court
rather than the lovers.
The theme of love in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is treated
the same in some regards and differently in others. On the whole, Donne
compares love to what he feels, whereas Wyatt compares love to a battle.
Poems about love have drastically changed throughout the centuries.
Love poems have evolved, as have people. But as the poem “The Long Love
That in My Thought Doth Harbor” cites, “For good is the life ending
faithfully.” It’s all worth it in the end. “It is better to have loved
and lost, than to have never loved at all.”