To what extent is Dorian Gray a satirical novel?

Topics: Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lippincott's Monthly Magazine Pages: 2 (712 words) Published: December 1, 2013

The Picture of Dorian Gray was written by Oscar Wilde in 1891, who himself was a key proponent of the aesthetic movement created by Walter Pater. Within the novel Wilde shows blatant contradictions and struggles within his characters, particularly those of the upper echelons of British society. Wilde parodies with great success main characters such as Lord and Henry and later on Dorian, yet also lesser characters, such as Lord Fermor. . As a potential ‘reincarnation’ of Narcissus, Dorian Gray embodies both tendencies in a poisonous, self-negating confluence signifying madness. He is potentially the greatest of all the satires in Wilde’s novel. He is arguably the most obsessed with outward appearances in the whole novel. Indeed as Wilde writes, ‘beauty, real beauty ends where an intellectual expression begins’. This stays true to his original declaration in the Preface that ‘all art is at once surface and symbol’. In this allegory about art, Wilde's book and its producer are themselves a part of this illusion. Lord Henry is a particularly clear of example of Wilde’s satirical streak. As we are first introduced to him, it is simple to figure out that he is one of the fabled upper class. His title and way of speaking, as well as glittering rhetoric give this away. Even though he presents himself in an apparently agreeable way, from the off the reader is warned of his influence. Essentially Lord Henry’s whole ideology concerning life is based on pithy epigrams, which in actual fact are devoid of any substance, such as ‘the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’. Wilde portrays Henry in such a way that although he is so disagreeable, Dorian is left hanging on his every word, and eventually falls victim to his questionable version of aestheticism. At Lady Narbrough’s party in Chapter 15, there are constant sniping comments on appearance and character from both the novel’s characters and narrator. One gentleman is ridiculed for supposedly...
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