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Oscar Wilde

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REALISM Great economic and political changes started in the beginning of the 19th century. Trading class began to struggle for radical political changes. As the political power was placed in the hands of the property - owning class, labor became cheep and living conditions grew worse. Disappointed and haggard working class decided to fight for their rights. People held uprisings, strikes, mass meetings and demanded more democratic reforms to improve their own conditions. All this stimulated the growth of realism and in the presentation of reality Romanticism became too abstract and symbolic. The realistic novels became the most important and most popular genre (7). Realism in literature is an approach that attempts to describe life without idealization or romantic subjectivity. Although realism is not limited to any one century or group of writers, it is most often associated with the literary movement in 19th-century France, specifically with the French novelists Flaubert and Balzac. George Eliot introduced realism into England, and William Dean Howells introduced it into the United States. Realism has been chiefly concerned with the commonplaces of everyday life among the middle and lower classes, where character is a product of social factors and environment is the integral element in the dramatic complications (13). In the drama, realism is most closely associated with Ibsen's social plays. Later writers felt that realism laid too much emphasis on external reality. Many, notably Henry James, turned to a psychological realism that closely examined the complex workings of the mind (12). The great realists of England devoted to the fight against various social evils. They posed the problems of poverty, crime, child labor, the system of education, the fate of youngster, the positions of women, artists and many others describing the helplessness of the common man and extremely bad working and living conditions. Manners, social and historical novels became most popular. The attitudes towards the social situation in the 19th century in the novels of various writers ranged from tragically satirical to humorously melodramatic. ...read more.


Whereas the romantic movement of the early and mid-nineteenth century viewed art as a product of the human creative impulse that could be used to learn more about humankind and the world, the aesthetic movement denied that art must necessarily be an instructive force in order to be valuable. Instead, the aestheticists believed, art should be valuable in and of itself-art for art's sake. Near the end of the nineteenth century, Walter Pater, an English essayist and critic, suggested that life itself should be lived in the spirit of art. His views, especially those presented in a collection of essays called The Renaissance, had a profound impact on the English poets of the 1890s, most notably Oscar Wilde. Aestheticism flourished partly as a reaction against the materialism of the burgeoning middle class, assumed to be composed of philistines (individuals ignorant of art) who responded to art in a generally unrefined manner. In this way, the artist could assert him or herself as a remarkable being, one leading the search for beauty in an age marked by shameful class inequality, social hypocrisy, and complacency. No one latched onto this attitude more boldly, or with more flair, than Oscar Wilde. His determination to live a life of beauty and to mold his life into a work of art is reflected in the beliefs and actions of several characters in Wilde's only novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray has often been compared to the famous German legend of Faust, immortalized in Christopher Marlowe's sixteenth-century play Doctor Faustus and in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's nineteenth-century poem Faust. The legend tells of a learned doctor who sells his soul to the devil in return for knowledge and magical abilities. Although Dorian Gray never contracts with the devil, his sacrifice is similar: he trades his soul for the luxury of eternal youth. For its overtones of supernaturalism, its refusal to satisfy popular morality, and its portrayal of culture, The Picture of Dorian Gray was met with harsh criticism (14). ...read more.


James Vane - is less a believable character than an embodiment of Dorian's tortured conscience. Although he is rather flat caricature, Wilde saw him as essential to the story, adding his character during his revision of 1891. Appearing at the dock and later at Dorian's country estate, James has an almost spectral quality. James appears with his face "like a white handkerchief" and makes Dorian feel guilty for the crimes he has committed. The Yellow Book - Lord Henry gives Dorian a copy of the yellow book as a gift. Although he never gives the title, Wilde describes the book as a French novel that charts the outrageous experiences of its pleasure-seeking protagonist. The book becomes like Holy Scripture to Dorian, who buys nearly a dozen copies and bases his life and actions on it. The book represents the profound and damaging influence that art can have over an individual and serves as a warning to those who would surrender themselves so completely to such an influence (10). LIST OF LITERATURE SOURSES 1. Coakley, Davis. Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Irish. Dublin: Town House, 1995. 2. Dollimore, Jonathan. Sexual Dissidence. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. 3. Ellman, Richard. Oscar Wilde. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. 4. Gillespie, Michael Patrick. The Picture of Dorian Gray: What the World Thinks of Me. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995. 5. Jullian, Philipe. Oscar Wilde. New York: The Viking Press, 1969. 6. Liebman, Sheldon W. Character Design in "The Picture of Dorian Gray." Studies in the Novel 31, no. 3. (1999): 296-316. 7. Kirvaitis Grazvydas, Suarnaite, Angele. English Literature. Kaunas: Sviesa, 1999. 8. McCormack, Jerusha Hull. The Man Who Was Dorian Gray. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000. 9. Raby, Peter. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. 10. Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. USA: Barnes and Noble, 1995. 11. http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/wilde/wildebio.html (the date of search 15/10/2004). 12. http://www.netspace.org/~haaus/ (the date of search 22/10/2004). 13. http://www.victorian.org/decadence/decadentov.html (the date of search 28/11/2004). 14. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/doriangray/terms (the date of search 30/11/2004). ...read more.

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