In what way can art be said to be "dangerous" in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of Oscar Wilde's famous maxims, found in his essay "The Decay of Lying" was that "life imitates art." In many ways, despite his storied "imoralism", Wilde, like Pater, was very much a Platonist with respect to a mimetic theory of audience responses to art. In other words, although WIlde claimed "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written,” he still acknowledged that people imitated what they read, and thus could imitate immoral acts. Even "good" art can inspire bad acts. There are several moral issues connected with art in the novel

Henry displays the conisseur's attitude not only to art but to life, looking at everything from a detached, aesthetic view. This leads him to ethical indifference.

Basil's devotion to his art and to Dorian's external beauty blinds him to Dorian's character.

The picture corrupts Dorian because it creates the ultimate realization of divorce of surface beauty from inner morality.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

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