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Dorian Gray and Art's Usefulness

By rbsilas Apr 18, 2013 763 Words
Google defines art as: (1) The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination,

typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture; e.g "the art of the Renaissance" or (2) Works produced by

skill and imagination. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, on multiple occasions reveals the importance of

art in Dorian’s world, and even ours. On several different occasions the text brings out the value of art in specifically

two ways. In one, it is used textually and verbally as a medium that can be portrayed in many forms, drawing,

acting, speech and even beauty. In another case, it is a medium used to compare, describe, depict, define, and even

draw the plot, ideals, to life. Both cases, (the reason of creation, and the viewer’s opinion) deal with influential

factors to the themes, plot, characters in the text, and daily events in our own lives, proving to us the value of


“You have brought me to something higher, something of which all art is but a reflection.” (Wilde, 94) This

is a very powerful statement made by the text as it has the character (Sybil Vane, the late lover and ex-fiancé of our

main character) speaking in the context of a lover’s rant to Dorian, proclaiming that the art of acting, is a reflection

of the reality of love- or in this case, her idea of love. She goes on to say Dorian is means more to her than all art

could ever be, which was a huge announcement, considering she had said earlier how much of her life revolved

around her art, acting. This not only brought attention to Dorian, but aroused a fatal attraction to her; “You said

to me that Sibyl Vane represented to you all the heroines of romance—”(Wilde, 118) (this was Harry’s statement on

Dorian’s behalf, since Dorian had supposedly only loved her for her art). Art is also used as a representation of one’s

ideals, thoughts, like/dislikes, morals and ethics, etc.. “… My very art itself” (Wilde, 10) the painter, Basil

Hallward, (another creator of a different medium of art) speaks of Dorian’s gravitational nature extracting his very

own being right from him, due to just simple fascination. It depicts excellently art’s value as a tool of representation of ideals, (in the standpoint of someone creating it).

Once it has been created, not only does it hold value to the creator’s standpoint, but the ideas one takes

from the piece of art, as a viewer. Art is also an excellent form of expression to situations in the life of the characters

in the text. As a first example, the artist of Dorian’s portrait compliments Dorian’s beauty as he says, “His beauty is

such that art cannot express it”, even though a few words later on he goes to say, “There is nothing art cannot

express” (Wilde, 17). This creates an interesting statement, if art is the very medium in which to express something,

and it cannot express something in particular, (in this case, Dorian’s beauty), whatever it is, truly is something to

behold of. In another point of the text, later on the portrait has been given two things, human characteristics ‘It

would be murder!’(Wilde, 44) (Dorian protecting the painting from being destroyed), and even a characteristic of

self-adjustments when it was compared to the (losing sanity) Dorian, “the face seemed to him to be a little

changed… “One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth” (Wilde, 99). This is a fairly huge

turning point to the story as Dorian comes to notice slight changes to the portrait, as if by magic it had been changed

this is impossible because it is an inanimate object. But this is yet another excellent way of making an example of

art’s value from the aspects different viewers because earlier on, Dorian had been verbally cruel to his fiancé, Sybil,

which had also led to her suicide.

The Picture of Dorian Gray’s many examples confirm art’s value in the text itself and in our lives in most

aspects. In definition, example and fact , art has been proven to be a very useful medium of expression, and

representation. A source of expression why it had been created, and what it represents after creation based on the

viewer, as “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” are the points Wilde brings to example the reality of art. He

brings a sense of “the artist and the viewer” as he accentuates the importance of art. |

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