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The Immorality of Dorian Gray

            Oscar Wilde, an Irish poet, writer and member of the Decadent movement, was born on October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. He is famous for his many plays, brilliant dialogues and satires but also for a multitude of social scandals. He is often considered to be the first "modern artist." He studied at Trinity College and at Oxford, becoming famous while living in London. But his fame has gone as quickly as it had come. Wilde was sentenced for two years in prison for a homosexual relationship. After that he moved to France under his pseudonym Sebastian Melmoth where he died in 1900 due to meningitis. The Picture of Dorian Gray is Wilde's only novel. It was first published in the Lippincott's magazine on July 20, 1890; later Wilde changed and added few more chapters. The story is set in London, England, in late Victorian period and it reinterprets the Faust myth, a story about a man who sold his soul to the devil.
             The book has been criticised from the very beginning for its immorality; the Victorian society did not like how Wilde pictured the life of rich people, that he connected luxury with sin. Like Lord Henry says: ˜Beautiful sins, like beautiful things, are the privilege of the rich.' (Wilde 92).
             The Preface in The Picture of Dorian Gray was written as an answer to the critics. It expresses Wilde's aesthetics, states the thought that art cannot be immoral and provokes even more by saying that ˜It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.' As Wilde later wrote in one of his letters: ˜Each man sees his own sins in Dorian Gray. What Dorian Gray's sins are no one knows. He who finds them has brought them.' (Hart-Davis 82).
             The painter, Basil Hallward, is the good one in the story, the moral one. He loves Dorian's beauty and innocence, probably because there are not many people like that anymore. Also he values their friendship a bit selfishly because it improves his painting skills and it makes us see that everyone, including good people, has mistakes.

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