Ethics and aesthetics in the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Assuming that you are asking how these two are represented in the novel, the aesthetic movement promoted Art for Art's sake. This meant that any element that contributes to an imagery of beauty in form is a preferred stylistic method. In Dorian Gray language is heavily complex and charged with imagery that moves emotion. This is where the aesthetics come into play. An example of this form of language would be:

But Juliet! Harry, imagine a girl, hardly seventeen years of age, with a little, flowerlike face, a small Greek head with plaited coils of dark-brown hair, eyes that were violet wells of passion, lips that were like the petals of a rose. She was the loveliest thing I had ever seen in my life. You said to me once that pathos left you unmoved, but that beauty, mere beauty, could fill your eyes with tears.

Ethics is a tough one on Dorian Gray because the social issues of the time were clearly open to interpretation. The themes of alternative sexuality, hedonism, suicide, murder, drug addiction, hypocrisy among the higher classes, and the pursue of pleasure left a bad taste in the Victorian common mouth. Dorian Gray was a book that was not banned by a miracle in prudish Victorian London. Yet, because the novel treated those topics and embellish them through an aesthetic formula, the novel became all the more dangerous and immoral from the point of view of a very homophobic and angry audience.



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The Picture of Dorian Gray

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