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The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray. A typical Victorian novel with quite un-Victorian ideas. Why did Wilde dress up his rebellious ideas in this conventional manner? Good question. His ideas would not and did not fit in that era. In the Victorian era everyone was to stay neat and tidy and not do anything considered crud. At least not the higher class, and if they did do something it was not made public news. But why the conventional manner?
The book is indeed a typical Victorian book, yet it is not. On the surface the book kept to the standards of that time, but if anyone knew his background or read for content they could see his intention. I seem to remember that at the time the book was written, it was not to be published due to the conceptions behind the writing and writer. Wilde made his ideas quite plain for those who were looking for them. A good example of this and a very obvious one is Basils confession to Dorian. Here he shows how he him self feels about homosexuality.
Throughout the book, his ideas become more and more obvious. He says Harry is what the world thinks I am like, Basil is what I think I am like and Dorian is what I would like to be like. Throughout the story, Dorian becomes more like Harry. Dorians feelings for Harry are also not so Victorian. Harrys influence over Dorian, whether he believed all his advice and ideas, was what turned Dorian in to what he became towards the end of the story. Wilde seems to be changing Dorian to be more like what he like, whether he accepts that he is like that or not. People in the Victorian era would have been shocked if they actually caught on to what he was really like. There were rumors, to be sure, but no one knew the full sweep of things. This is at least to my knowledge. It is possible that his wife knew, but anyone outside that was left to guess. Homosexuality was against the law and many charged with this practice were sent to jail. They were very strict about this. Even Wilde was sent there for several years. His wife and children tried to disappear after this hoping that he would come back to his senses and com back to them. This however did not happen.
But why the conventional manner? you may be asking. Simple, to sell the book and spread his views, he had to keep it as close to traditional literature from that period. If it was banded from publishers, he could not spread his ideologies and no one would fall his lead. How can one have a movement with only a handful of people? He needed a way to get support from people outside of their circle.
My conclusion is basically that the main reason he kept to the typical Victorian style was so that they would not be able to refuse to publish it for fear of the laws at that time.
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