The True Purpose of Art
Oscar Wilde was a very shrewd intellectual who through the teachings of Walter Pater and John Ruskin became a strong supporter of the aesthetics movement. This movement was one which wanted to shy society away from the fact that art had a purpose. They wanted simply to have art for art’s sake. In essence what this means is that art’s only true purpose is beauty and there are no underlying symbols, meanings, or derivations of art it is simply art. Oscar Wilde attempts to promote his beliefs about aestheticism in the book “Picture of Dorian Gray” through his use the character Basil Hallward, the picture of Dorian Gray, and the relationship between Lord Henry and Dorian Gray.
Oscar Wilde uses Basil Hallward , specifically his perception of a perfect artist to support his argument that the purpose of art is to be beautiful. From the beginning of the book we can see that Basil has a strong tie to his artwork. In the first chapter when he goes to visit Lord Henry and shows him the portrait of Dorian he tells Lord Henry that he will not exhibit his work because there is too much of the artist in the painting. This scenario leads Dorian to explain to Lord Henry what the an artist’s role truly is “An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. Someday I will show the world what it is; and for that reason the world shall never see my portrait of Dorian Gray." (30) What basil is saying in this quote is that society has lost the true essence of art and that the true purpose of an artist is to create something of beauty. That is why he will not show his portrait of Dorian to the world because he feels as if the portrait is not just beautiful it has a deeper meaning which relays not only beauty but some deeper emotion. Also the simple sentence structure in this quote also...
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