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What do we learn about Victorian society in The Picture Of Dorian Gray?

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Introduction

What do we learn about Victorian society in The Picture Of Dorian Gray? The Victorian age was the time when the British Empire was at its strongest and greatest. People of Britain felt better and more special then other people from different countries. The nature of England had begun to change, the farming industry began to deteriorate and England started to become a manufacturing industry. It was the time of contrast especially where the rich were extremely rich and the poor were extremely poor. Aristocracy was everything and it was what everyone wanted to be even though the aristocratic world was the smallest minority of about one percent of England's population. The Vane family is of a middle class and they are aspiring to social advancement. However in comparison to the upper class the still seem like the "seedy" poor. Wilde shows that the desire to be upper class is misplaced and that the upper class is actually an immoral place as none of them work, in fact they look down upon it and they very much believe in scandal and gossip and so for most of the aristocrats that is the only exciting thing that happens in their lives. ...read more.

Middle

"Greasy reflectors" "...stained with dark rings of spilt liquor." This makes you feel like it is a ghastly place to live in but is the squalor that the majority of England lived in. In contrast to this horrible and hideous mage that Wilde portrays to us about the lower classes of Victorian society, we also see what it is like in the upper class where Dorian Gray lives. The aristocrats in Victorian society lead very indolent lives where they frown upon any means of work. As they therefore spend a lot of time doing nothing, they amuse themselves with scandal and gossip amongst their friends. This is why scandal is very important and not frowned upon in the upper class, as they love to know anyone involved in crime and they regard it mainly as "exciting". "I should like to know someone who had committed a real murder." (Lord Henry.) The aristocrats of the Victorian age have a very relaxed and sedentary life style. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the aristocracy world it was a society where fashion is of primary importance - people are attracted by beauty. Lord Henry thinks selfishness is a good thing. Lord Henry is a prime example of the aristocratic world he lives in and so from the book we should take his views quite seriously. "They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty one owes to one's self." This shows that Lord Henry thinks we should put ourselves before others. Basil Hallward, however, has views opposite of the Victorian age. He thinks that it is in what is inside is right. "You never say a moral thing and you never do a wrong thing." There were very few people of that time in the aristocratic world that took that view. Whenever Basil said what he thought in that respect he was always laughed at, ignored or argued. The Victorian society was not a very nice place to be in, everyone wanted to live in the aristocratic world, which was not actually a good place. It was full of corruption, lies and scandal. Everyone else was leading very poor lives where they were frowned upon for working. Alex Carpenter ...read more.

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