In this thesis the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by Oscar Wilde, and the film .. couple of years, because today women are presented as “active, . being most often Dorian, Henry and Basil, and Sibyl Vane only once. .. style, fashion and therapy, and therefore are seen as stylish and classy. Basil's response to Dorian's engagement is logical because Dorian and Sybil's romance is parallel to Dorian's mother and father's relationship. One afternoon, a month later, Dorian Gray was reclining in a luxurious arm- .. are your actual relations with Sibyl. Vane?” Dorian Gray leaped to his feet, with.
He escorted them to their box with a sort of pompous humility, waving his fat jewelled hands, and talking at the top of his voice.
Dorian Gray loathed him more than ever. He felt as if he had come to look for Miranda and had been met by Caliban. Lord Henry, upon the other hand, rather liked him. At least he declared he did, and insisted on shaking him by the hand, and assuring him that he was proud to meet a man who had discovered a real genius and gone bankrupt over a poet.
A while later, as Sibyl acts very poorly, the audience loses interest and begins to talk loudly and to whistle.
Wilde describes Isaacs's uncouth reaction: This is our last glimpse of him. After Sibyl's death, we hear no more of "the [grinning] old Jew" p. What are we to make of all this? Is Wilde indulging in an uncharacteristic outburst of anti-Semitism, or is there a deeper reason for his surprisingly hostile and racially prejudiced portrayal of the Jewish manager? The answer, I think, lies in the nature of Wilde's novel. Without exception, the characters in The Picture of Dorian Gray are meant to represent various art movements in the nineteenth century and before: Basil Hallward, for instance, is meant at the beginning of the novel to evoke Dante Gabriel Rossetti as painter.
The early Rossetti painted beautiful, innocent-looking women; Basil does the same thing, but concentrates on a young man instead. As the novel develops, moreover, Basil is associated strongly with John Ruskin. As Richard Ellmann has observed: Plagiarism is the worst of his crimes. He brazenly takes over the best-known passages" Wotton is meant to represent Pater, but Pater as misunderstood by the young men who were corrupted by his Renaissance text.
Dorian exists both as a picture and as a human being. As he deteriorates, he becomes the type of the Decadent while his picture comes to reflect Decadent art's obsessive and extreme exploration of the evil in human nature.
Sibyl Vane represents an innocent movement in English literature. She is all of Shakespeare's heroines rolled into one, but she also suggests the poetry of the early Tennysonwhich concentrated on the artist isolated in a beautiful world of art. Like the Lady of Shalottwhom she clearly echoes when she says to Dorian, "I have grown sick of shadows" p. Even the minor characters are linked to Victorian art movements. Jim Vane and his mother, for instance, are straight out of Victorian melodrama.
Wilde makes this very clear when he has Sibyl say to her brother: You are like one of the heroes of those silly melodramas mother used to be so fond of acting in" p. Racial Representations, Cambridge University Press,barely mentions Wilde and makes no mention of the character Isaacs.
Whatthen, of Isaacs? Does he fit into this framework, and if so, how?
Analysis - The Picture of Dorian Gray
The oily Jewish entrepreneur is a stock figure in the popular literature of Wilde's day, and it is almost certain that Wilde meant him to be another representative of Victorian melodrama and to contribute to the unattractive atmosphere surrounding Sibyl. He is clearly her equivalent of Caliban. But one cannot stop here. Wilde pushes the anti-Semitism to the point of parody, prompting the reader to ask further questions.
It is my view, which I offer simply as an educated hypothesis, that Isaacs is at least in part Wilde's response to George Eliot. The most prominent and towering example of the portrayal of the Jewish community in the final decades of the century was Eliot's Daniel Deronda In Daniel Deronda she displayed a warmly sympathetic attitude towards the Jewish community and used it to criticise non-Jewish English society.
Wilde disliked Eliot considerably.Sibyl Vane - Dorian Gray La bellezza non ha pietà (Venezia, 20/11/2016)
In The Decay of Lying [ text ], written shortly before The Picture of Dorian Gray, he enumerated then criticised the various novelists of his day for abandoning "lying" in favour of scientific accuracy and realism.
He wrote of George Eliot: Ruskin once described the characters in George Eliot's novels as being like the sweepings of a Pentonville omnibus, but M. Zola's characters are much worse" p. Wilde, then, associated Eliot with Zola and saw her as part of a movement whose drift led ultimately to that terrible enemy of aestheticism, naturalism.
The Problem of the Jewish Manager in The Picture of Dorian Gray
It is true that Eliot is realistic and often mercilessly critical in her analysis of her characters and their motives. She abandons this attitude only once — in presenting Daniel Deronda in particular and the Jewish community in general. Deronda is uncharacteristically idealised by George Eliot. Unlike her other characters he is, quite simply, perfect.
Isaacs in my view is a deliberate parodic inversion of Daniel Deronda. Although this cannot be proved, there are indications which point in that direction. George Eliot describes Deronda as "young, handsome, distinguished in appearance" p. Isaacs, on the other hand, is old, ugly, repulsive in appearance, ridiculously dressed, and lower class.
Daniel Deronda opens with a memorable scene in which Gwendolen Harleth is gambling at a roulette-table while Deronda looks upon her with disdain: The darting sense that he was measuring her and looking down on her as an inferior, that he was of different quality from the human dross around her, that he felt himself in a region outside and above her, and was examining her as a specimen of a lower order, roused a tingling resentment which stretched the moment with conflict.
Wilde inverts and exaggerates this situation in the Dorian-Isaacs relationship. It is Dorian, the young, rich and handsome English gentleman, who looks down upon the Jewish manager, seeing him as a member of an inferior species.
Later on in the novel, George Eliot focuses on Daniel Deronda's hands and describes them: Look at his hands: Wilde tells us that he has "fat jewelled hands' that he waves as he talks. Isaacs's hands, unlike Deronda's, are sweaty, vulgar and repulsive. In another memorable scene in Daniel Deronda, we are told of the young Daniel that he is a gifted musician: Daniel had not only one of those thrilling boy voices which seem to bring an idyllic heaven and earth before our eyes, but a fine musical instinct, and had early made out accompaniments for himself on the piano, while he sang from memory.
Since then he had had some teaching, and Sir Hugo, who delighted in the boy, used to ask for his music in the presence of guests. Wilde compactly counterpoints this scene when he has Dorian say in describing the theatre Sibyl acts in: This inversion, moreover, extends the anti-Semitic overtones beyond the figure of Isaacs. His use of sensory images and color create very specific and beautiful mental pictures.
Even the shocking ending of Dorian Gray suggests that it is in his realization of his own evil and desire to change for the better that Dorian accepts his death. But there are just too many problems with the aesthetic life for me to accept it that easily. Under this model of existence there is no motivation or positive reinforcement to do good; everyone is motivated by one's own selfish pursuit of pleasure.
Another aspect of the story that weakens the philosophy of the aesthete is the acceptance that all beauty is that all beauty will fade. I feel that Sybil Vane defeats this argument in her action in the story. Her suicide could be argued as a selfless act and a show of devotion to Dorian. In her disregard for her own pleasure, she is able to remain forever beautiful in the minds of the living.
This is what frustrated me the most about this book: I could only find one solid point that this book makes that is not contradicted: Which of course Wilde himself refuted when this book was used as evidence in the trial against him.
The story presents a very negative model for the nature of mankind. Wilde suggests as Hobbes does that mankind is primarily self-interested and that the pursuit of pleasure and sin really is what we should worry about. The number of aphorisms in the book is probably my favorite thing about it. I often had to just roll my eyes and keep reading waiting to get through is periodic rants on the silliness of women.
In reading this book I also found the idea of immortality very interesting. The idea of memento more permeates the story, but this idea of immanent death is contrasted with some interesting ideas of immortality, particularly the classic reference to the Sybil. Though Sybil Vane is the precise opposite of the classical Sybil.
The classical Sybil suffers immortality in a constantly aging and deteriorating body, whereas Sybil Vane does not age at all beyond her peak at seventeen. In this respect Dorian and Sybil Vane are very much equal their beauty remains unaffected by time. Meanwhile the picture takes on the role of the classical Sybil. The characters are so complex and their development only furthers their complexity. Throughout the whole story, I felt so horrible for Basil, who tried to do a nice thing for Dorian Gray by painting his picture and then giving it to him as a gift.
However, through his introduction to Lord Henry, Dorian meets his demise. Basil is the character we pity who seems to have no luck in social situations and wants so much from Dorian and receives so little. His tragic death made me sick to my stomach for such a pathetic man. He is vane in believing his appearance will keep him young at heart and he is vane in mostly all of his relationships with other people.
He is the reason for three deaths in this story and seems to feel no remorse until the very end of the novel, when he simply hates the picture not himself. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.
The man seems to have no heart, no depth and no understanding of human nature, which was far from what I thought he would be at the beginning. This story managed to piss me off, keep my attention until the very end and truly entertain me all at the same time. This obsession with beauty and the self is a theme that is found throughout this time period, and Wilde takes it to an extreme.
His ideas that life should be spent seeking beauty and pleasure is a way that many people still live their lives today, obsessed with materialistic things and outward appearances in order to achieve happiness. I began to feel bad for Dorian in the beginning of the story, seeing that he did not realize what he was getting himself involved in. However, after the death of Sibyl, he had the chance to change, and yet decided to take the road to destruction.
He killed or drove away anyone that truly did care about him, and held on so tightly to the one person that brought on his downfall.
The sexual relationships within the story are quite intriguing to me. First, why is it that no woman holds any significant character in the story? Sibyl does not have much to her character, she is defined by her love for Dorian. Plus, the one thing she was known to be good at, acting, she gave up because of her love for him.
She is portrayed as weak and pathetic in her death, not wanting to even live if she cannot have him.