The Impossible Synthesis Between Hellenism and Hebraism in 'the Picture of Dorian Gray'

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The Picture of Dorian Gray
Demonstration about the Impossible Synthesis between Hellenism and Hebraism Hellenism and Hebraism are two philosophical perspectives on the question of how human beings can be perfected. Hellenism means seeing things as they really are in their essence as a grand and precious feat for man to achieve, in their beauty, getting rid of ignorance, thinking clearly. It’s defined by the spontaneity of consciousness, figuring things out spontaneously and its aim is man’s evolution. “The best man is he who most tries to perfect himself and the happiest man is he who most feels that he is perfecting himself.”(Socrates) Hellenists think that people can be perfected through an understanding of reality, through a search for the truth. Also, the Greeks’ quarrel with the body and its desires is that it gets in the way of right thinking. In contrast to Hellenism, Hebraism is based on conduct and obedience, on the strictness of conscience, differentiating between good and evil, self-conquest, self-devotion, following the will of God. It speaks of becoming conscious of sin, of awakening to a sense of sin. Its aim is man’s salvation and it also says that one should give oneself up to the will of God, be conscious of one’s sinfulness, and follow what God has said people should do. The Hebrews’ quarrel with the body and its desires is that it gets in the way of right acting. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” shows clearly the difference between Hellenism and Hebraism and is more Hellenic than Hebraic. Greek art in general was very much interested in portraying human figure as an object of beauty. The main idea of Greek art is that the naked male body was idolised and the statues were models of perfection, but in Wilde’s time, in opposition to the Hellenistic period, idolising the male body was taboo. In ancient Greece boys were seen as desirable mostly when they were young and beautiful, so in Wilde's novel the praise of beauty and youth holds a prominent position. Dorian Gray is a fascinating personality that could draw you in itself, just like Greek statues. In every moment he is described, he has the characteristics of Greek sculptures. His personality has the same force of influence on Basil, as Henry’s personality has on him. By telling Henry that he has a great passion for sensations – that is, things that one can feel which is a pure Hellenic concept, Dorian proves that Henry fulfilled his aim, that of influencing Dorian completely. He also says that he likes beautiful things that can be touched or handled, which is in opposition to the concept of Hebraism of believing without seeing. Dorian’s name might be derived from The Dorians, who were among the principal ancient Greek tribes. His name has also its etymology in reference to the mode of ancient Greek music, literature. It also means "of Doris," from Greek Doris, district in central Greece, traditionally named for Doros, the legendary ancestor of the Dorians, whose name is probably related to doron "gift." Dorians swept away the last of the declining Mycenaean and Minoan civilizations of southern Greece and plunged the region into a dark age out of which the Greek city-states began to emerge almost three centuries later. His name is linking him to ancient Greek culture, which Lord Henry upholds as the high point of human civilization. It also has another meaning – it's linked etymologically to "gold" and "golden" (think El Dorado), like Dorian's appearance. Finally, "Gray" is a more obvious one – Dorian occupies a morally gray area, and his transformation from good to evil mostly takes place in limbo. Henry Wotton (his name is of Germanic origin and it means house owner, lord of the manor and is also related to Wotan/Odin, considered the supreme god of Germanic and Norse mythology, his name meaning "possessed" with a more general significance of "spiritually excited", “wide in wisdom”, “greybeard” – older than...
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