February 26, 2005

Into Gray: Concluding Dorian

I did get the library copy of Dorian, but I am not writing in the margins, but rather on scrap paper with the page number beside my note. I don't write in library books. This library book is quite extraordinary actually, but I am not sure how I feel about having a book about aesthetics being illustrated for me in cartoons...

This is the final illustration by Tony Ross in my edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray.


Quite disturbing for a cartoon...

I finally finished this novel, and I am intrigued, not only by the aesthetic conclusions of the novel, but also by Wilde himself as a writer and character in history.

As for the ending, I was a bit uncomfortable with the assumption that one cannot be saved from an "evil" lifestyle, as Wilde implies by the painting not reversing the stains of sin upon the canvas. This assumption seems to limit the human spirit; it limits Dorian's soul, which was originally described as just as beautiful as his outward appearance. I would describe a beautiful soul as a resilient one--a soul that can withstand mistakes and turn around despite the trials that Life, or the character, inflicts upon one's self.

I loved the variance of Wilde's aesthetic taste toward description. The novel, imitating Dorian's progression, begins with beautiful images of summer and flowers, specifically roses (indicative of romance) to the cold of winter, the last few scenes being characterized by coats on the characters.

I am not sure what I would like to address specifically in my paper yet. I have been dabbling with this idea of imagery in relation to Wilde's writing style (i.e. how the dialogue contrasts with the imagery and later how it meshes with the dialogue, enhancing the cold effect of Dorian's transformation).

Another idea I have been working with is that of symbolism. Bees, flowers, colors (or colours) are all symbolic of characters and their current situation at different stages of the plot. At the start of the novel, for instance, Dorian is looked upon as having the blush of youth, but later having pallor and whiteness with fainting fits.

I'm not quite sure if I like that idea very much now that I have written it out.

Yet another idea has sparked. Lord Henry is the most prolific speaker of aesthetics in the novel. When one character is speaking about the considerations of reality, Lord Henry always finds a way to turn to art and the manner in which we are imitating or being imitated by artists. He seems to go in either direction, as suits his conversation point needs.

Hm. Not quite sure what to do. At least I have options.

First impressions all my own. Now onto scholarly peer-reviewed sources. Wahoo. :-\ :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at February 26, 2005 1:13 AM | TrackBack

I think one of the reasons why Dorian couldn't reverse the damage done to his soul is because he didn't feel any real repentance. He realized on pg. 234 that: "Through vanity he had spared her [Hattie]. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity's sake he had tried the denial of self." He attacked the mirror not because he renounced his sins, but because he did not want to think about the damage that had been done. It was a constant reminder of his depravity that could show everyone that he wasn't all that they thought he could be. His desire to destroy the painting was out of his selfish desire to maintain his current life.

At least that was my interpretation. Sorry for the rambling =P

Posted by: Johanna at February 28, 2005 12:37 AM

No--definitely not rambling Johanna. Great interpretation. I think I am going to amend my thesis anyway. :-)

Posted by: Amanda at February 28, 2005 8:58 AM
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