The Picture pf Dorian Grey - Textual analysis

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ENL 102 Victorian Literature: Textual Analysis Part 2
Chosen extract: The Picture of Dorian Grey, Chapter 2 from “Suddenly the painter appeared at the door of the studio” to “I would give my soul for that!”
Chapter two of “The Picture of Dorian Grey” is an important chapter as it firmly introduces readers to the title character, Dorian Grey and his cohorts. We learn that he exudes physical attractiveness, being ‘wonderfully handsome1’ with a ‘bright look in the eyes2’, and ‘finely-curved scarlet lips’. The use of language here describes Dorian Grey in an effeminate manner, suggesting that he is unconventional, disassociating the character from the stereotypical Victorian male. Already, this could imply to the reader that Wilde is displaying signs of the return of the repressed, insofar as his illicit desires towards other men. The novel may serve as a platform for Wilde’s unconscious desires.
The supremacy of youth and beauty is a central theme in the novel and, coincidently is the first principle of aestheticism. The aesthetic movement saw the support and emphasis of aesthetic values and it was most prominent in Europe at ‘The Fin De Siècle’. Wilde was an advocate of this philosophy of art and believed that the sole purpose of art is to offer beauty - or ‘art for art’s sake’. In ‘The Critic as Artist’ (1891) Wilde declares that “the first condition of criticism is that the critic shoukd be able to recognise that the sphere of Art and the sphere of Ethics are absolutely distinct and separate”3. Aestheticism is thought to have been promoted by Théophile Gautier in France, who interpreted the phrase to suggest that there was not any similarity between art and morality. As Lord Henry Wotton suggests, ‘it is better to be beautiful than to be good4’.
Fin de Siècle, British aestheticism was largely linked to Wilde and his social group, as it often carries the inference of decadence, and living an easy lifestyle; it could be argued from a psychoanalytic

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