The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray and Critical Theory 12th Grade

Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is without a doubt a reflection of its author and its time. As an academic, social, and political figurehead of late 19th century London, Wilde was highly engaged in the ongoing public dialogue surrounding the stream of new social developments and philosophical creeds that flowed from London out to the whole rest of the Western world. As a center of developing thought, London’s Victorian society was under constant attack by new ideas generated by people like Wilde, resulting in a society rich with radical philosophies yet incredibly restrictive and resistant to change. The best way to avoid incurring societal damage from this deluge of thought was to avoid thinking about it at all, something the Victorians became highly adept at. Once filtered through their societal screens, radical philosophies became much more civilized. By alternatively establishing and destroying assumptions and ideologies throughout the text, Wilde creates a void in which he forces the reader to think about the validity of Aesthetic, Victorian, and contemporary ideologies rather than accepting a conclusion presented by Wilde or by the reader’s societal assumptions.

The Picture is, in particular, highly reflective of the...

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