The Dark Side of Aestheticism

The Dark Side of Aestheticism.

The long 18th century and the 19th century were periods of experiment, with a rapidly changing landscape brought about by the industrial revolution. Age old doctrines were now in question as science and innovation proved useful to the general population. Most literary theories are a response to these on-going changes. The main division was between theories that support reason and rationality with those that push to promote imagination and expressivity. Aestheticism began as a criticism of Realism which purposed to show the world as it was, that in the real sense. Aestheticism preached the opposite, seeking to look for beauty in art not real life. This theory proposed art should have no moral or social and political agenda and should rather, be about showcasing beauty (Stevens). The problem with this theory’s disregard for morals is that it allows for a darker element to arise. In this essay, I will focus on The Picture of Dorian Gray and will argue that Dorian, by embracing an aesthetic lifestyle, creates a dark double in form of the picture. To analyze the dark double and its effect on Dorian, I will look at some psychoanalytic theories by Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung whose articles shed some light into how to analyze the text.

Aestheticism and what it should entail has been a topic of debate even among the pioneers of this theory. There are different facets to this theory depending on which writer you follow. Arnold states that the object of criticism should be to see the text [or art] for what it really is that is, and that we should look at literary texts objectively. Pater preaches the opposite; for him, art should always be looked at subjectively (Matz 53). That is, for each individual, a piece of art might resonate differently given that each person is different. Pater claims that it is the feeling and impression the art gives the viewer that is important. Clearly, there is a difference in the way different proponents of the aesthetic position view this theory, which might lead to the belief that Aestheticism contradicts itself, and while it seems this way, keep in mind that this was a theory that was constantly growing and revised by different writers and thinkers of the eras. Despite the conflicting opinions as to what Aestheticism should entail, it is generally agreed that Aestheticism seeks to promote art for the sake of art. The purpose of art is not to serve any “particular social or political agenda” (Stevens 131) but to create beauty. Arnold refers to this as sweetness (Arnold). As mentioned earlier, the theory of aestheticism is largely a response to realism which set to portray life as is. Realism strived to tell stories based on political and social issues. Writers like Charles Dickens talk about the condition of children working in the factories, and how they had no place there. Books and works of art such as this showed the ugly reality of the society existing at that time. Furthermore, novels with morals were quite popular at this time and reinforced the traditional conventions. All this, aestheticism denounces, criticizing the emphasis on real life and morality. The Aesthetes thought art should have no meaning and in the words of Wilde, that “all art is quite useless” (Wilde 4). That art should exist only for the purpose of creating beauty, that is, for the sake of itself. Art had no reason to look to the real world or try to emulate the real world as the world was ugly and deformed and could never produce anything beautiful.

The aesthetic idea that art should have no moral or should not preach or reinforce traditional values is what makes the aesthetic similar to the gothic. In The Renaissance, Pater comments on the painting of the Mona Lisa which he claims has a kind of eternal beauty (Pater 88). Mona Lisa has outlasted everyone and it is in art that we can find such a feat. For Pater, art holds a supernatural power that we would associate with the gothic yet aestheticism allows for this kind of unconventionality if it means beautiful art is being produced. As Riquelme states, “The merger is possible, and inevitable, because of the tendency of Gothic writing to present a fantastic world of indulgence and boundary-crossing and the tendency of the aesthetic, in Pater, to press beyond conventional boundaries and to recognize terror within beauty” (Riquelme 491). Art can be whatever as far as it produces beauty. Due to the broadness of this theory, the gothic and the decadent have a place here. In Browning’s poem, “My Last Duchess”, the painting of the duchess makes her look “as if she were alive” (Browning 2). That is, even in death, a person can still live on in art. We see the same when Dorian sees his portrait for the first time, he says “… this painting will remain always young” (Wilde 25). Art is magnificent and powerful in its ability to preserve memory among other things, and it is one of the things that makes art special. The Picture of Dorian Gray is another good example of the aesthetic gothic. Everything sinful and unconventional seems to happen in the dark or at night time. This gives the novel a gothic element to it. Furthermore, while Dorian’s youthful and beautiful face represents the aesthetic, the picture of Dorian, which changes with each sin he commits, is dark and bothersome. This shows a supernatural aspect to it that we can only call gothic.

The theory of Aestheticism and its disregard for morality fosters a problem, one which The Picture of Dorian Gray explores. Are there consequences for living without any guiding principles? For Dorian to live a decadent lifestyle to the fullest, what has to happen? When Dorian first sees the portrait, he wishes to remain young and aesthetical beautiful and proclaims “I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” (Wilde 25). Dorian proclamation that he would give his very soul is symbolic not only because it signifies the importance of beauty to Dorian but also because it shows the creation of the other Dorian, one existing by the constraints of the real world. This is what the dark other represents; a persona that does not follow the rules of aestheticism. Dorian transfers himself unto the portrait, a portrait which has to show Dorian for what he really is, and not just what he seems to be. Riquelme explains that Wilde’s text “… provides in narrative form a dark double for Pater’s aestheticism that emerges from a potential for dark doubling and reversal within aestheticism itself” (Riquelme 491). Riquelme gets to the root of the problem by noticing the consequences of a theory like aestheticism. Aestheticism makes no mention of the consequences of living an excessive, decadent lifestyle. Yet there are effects to whatever action we take. This, for Dorian comes in form of his portrait. The portrait is like a canvas staining with every sin Dorian commits.

To explore this idea of the dark double, Freud’s The Uncanny gives an interesting explanation for the dark other. We first see the change in the portrait after the suicide of Sybil Vane; the text explaining that “… the expression looked different. One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth. It was certainly strange” (Wilde 77). The novel enters into the realm of the gothic with this scene. The phrase used to describe the change, “one would have said…” suggests an uncertainty in what was seen, and causes one to question why the narrator does not simply say, “there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth”.  Furthermore, the use of the word “strange” synonymous to “uncanny” establishes that there is something mysterious, something not quite right, and maybe even a little unsettling. In The Uncanny, Freud explores the meaning behind the uncanny and gives the example of E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Sandman, where the protagonist is plagued by the idea of a bedtime story about the Sandman. Freud explains that author leaves the reader “… in doubt whether… [they] are witnessing the first delirium of the panic-stricken boy…” (Freud 6).  The same goes for the readers of The Picture of Dorian Gray when Dorian notices the change in the mouth. Freud further explains the idea of the uncanny by quoting Schelling who states that “… everything is uncanny that ought to have remained hidden and secret, and yet comes to light” (Freud 4). Carl Jung refers to this as the “shadow archetype” which is “… composed primarily of the elements of ourselves that we consider to be negative” (Waude 3). The portrait becomes a part of him that Dorian that he dislikes hence the name dark double. We see evidence of Dorian’s hatred for the portrait when Dorian returns to check on the portrait a second time.  He refers to it as “… the mask of his shame” (Wilde 80). He is aware of what the portrait has come to represent; something negative and ugly and this is something Dorian cannot stand because he understands what it means. He says, “[w]as there some subtle affinity between the chemical atoms, that shaped themselves into form and colour on the canvas, and the soul that was within [him]?” (Wilde 80-81). Dorian is aware that his lifestyle of aestheticism has consequences and while they cannot manifest on him, they can appear on the portrait.

The idea of the dark double allows for an interesting visualization. One could very well imagine the Dorian in the portrait as the one who goes around doing the same thing that the real Dorian does. A double who has embraced the evil that comes with an idea like Aestheticism but also suffers the real life consequences the real Dorian should like numerous diseases etc. This would essentially make the portrait Dorian the real Dorian Gray. Dorian’s corruption in the text shows the problem a theory like aestheticism poses. Even Lord Henry, who appears to be the consummate aesthete and leads the impressionable Dorian astray does not subscribe completely to the aesthete lifestyle.  He still lives within the constraints of the traditional principles as he is married, and has children even though he opposes the idea. This makes Lord Henry hypocritical but his conformity to some societal values suggests he understands the damaging effect of aestheticism.

Other criticisms make mention of the fact that the theory of Aestheticism contradicts itself. If the role of aestheticism is to promote art with no social or political agenda, aestheticism cannot promote anything. Yet the idea of aestheticism is meant to be a theory for people to live by and that itself is an agenda. To say art should be about beauty and nothing else is informing people of a certain way to view art which is a motive. Another criticism of the aesthetics is its ostentatious nature. With works of aesthete men like William Morris and James McNeill Whistler, aestheticism can only be the way of life of those who are of a certain income. Huysmans text, Against Nature that is taken to be the prime example of aesthetic writing, the main character Des Esseintes is a man of considerable wealth. This theory does not take into account those of lesser fortune and even further, seeks to ignore the plight of the unfortunate. Some things are never able to be depicted as they will never be considered beautiful. Sybil Vane stops being a performer and therefore stops being beautiful to Dorian.  This theory ignores the issues of society and focuses on the importance of beauty above all else. A counter argument can be made by stating that aestheticism acts as an escape from reality. Reality can take a toll on one’s mind, and just admiring art for its beauty is a good way to escape from that reality.

This essay looked at the concept of art for art sake which suggests that art should only exist to create art. And if art is only creating art, it will always create something beautiful because art can never be ugly. There is a supernatural aspect to this idea as aestheticism holds Art as a religion, as a transcendent form incapable of being ordinary or ugly therefore art will always be beautiful if it is created just for the sake of creating art. Since aesthetic art never copies society or reality, aestheticism turns a blind eye to the problems and issues that might arise in society. It seeks only to portray art in its true form, beauty. However, we see, with the case of Dorian and his dark double, there are consequences for living an aesthete decedent life.


Work Cited


Arnold, Matthew. Culture and Anarchy. Cornhill Magazine. 1869. Assessed on Canvas.

Browning, Robert. “My Last Duchess.” 1846. Assessed on Canvas.

Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” 1919. Assessed on Canvas.

Waude, Adam. “Carl Jung: Archetypes and Analytical Psychology.” PsychologistWorld, Assessed 28 March 2017.

Matz, Jesse. Literary Impressionism and Modernist Aesthetics. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Assessed from ProQuest.

Pater, Walter. The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry. Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1980, pp. 98-99. Assessed on Canvas.

Riquelme, John. “Oscar Wilde’s Aesthetic Gothic.” The Picture of Dorian Gray, edited by Michael Patrick Gillespie, W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, 490-508.

Stevens, Anne. Literary Theory and Criticism: An Introduction. Broadview Press. 2015.

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 2nd ed., W.W. Norton & Company. 2007.



Novel: The Third Time Chapter 1


“Go son” his father said

At that he took off running on all fours through the forest, towards the scent that attracted him the most. Interestingly enough, it was a scent he knew but couldn’t conjure up the face it belonged to, so he just ran faster, eager to see whose face it was. He could hear his father and a few other pack members running with him. It was tradition. Some pack members ran alongside the heir as support when he was to find the future Luna. His friends, Ian and Jake had also come along.

The unmated females had run into the forest ahead of time, spread out all over the Skies forest. One of them was his mate and he was going to find her.

He followed the scent, veering west as her scent grew stronger. Something white caught his eye, it was a girl resting against a tree with her back to him and Cass just knew it was his mate.

He stopped a few feet away from her and shifted. So did his father and the others.

However, when she did not turn around, Cass’s wolf was grew restless.

“Hey” he called out to get her attention.

She turned and he took in her round face and short hair. She was beautiful and just as he was about to walk towards her, he realized who it was and felt his world crumble.

It was Grace.

“Shit” his friend, Jake said seeing the dilemma.

Grace’s eyes grew wide in shock, and then changed to disgust. Utter and complete disgust.

“No” Cass whispered. It couldn’t be.

Her eyes glimmered with unshed tears and she simply turned and walked away.

Cass didn’t stop her; he didn’t have the right or courage to.

“What are you doing just standing there, go after her” he heard his father say but he couldn’t bring himself to. It would be cruel to do so.

At his silence and the look on his friends faces, it was obvious to everyone that there was more to the situation than they knew about. A mate did not just walk away from her werewolf and a male werewolf did not just watch his mate walk away from him. Their instinct and bond did not permit either scenario.

“What did you do?” his father asked but got no reply “Answer me!” he commanded and though Cass had the power to ignore the command, his friends did not.

“He broke her heart” Jake said gloomily.

“Well that’s not so bad. She can forgive him for that” his father said.

She wouldn’t because she couldn’t and it was at that moment Cass realized he had made the biggest mistake of his life. He would never be able to hold his mate in his arms like he had always dreamed about.


Cass first saw her when she walked into their Mathematics class. She was petite with short brown hair that was curved into a bob. She also had bangs that prevented him from seeing her eyes properly which for some stupid reason, he really wanted to. He immediately shifted his eyes back to his table, shocked and frankly, annoyed over his reaction to the girl.

“New girl alert” his friend Ian said. He was the playful one of the group of friends and the one who kept everyone smiling.

“Not my type” Luke, another one of his friends said. Luke was the somewhat normal one in their group, not really belonging to any particular category, at least not that Cass could tell.

“When are they ever your type” Ian replied.

She wasn’t Cass’s type either. He usually liked his women on the taller side but still, he couldn’t help but turn back and look her over as she passed a slip to Mr. Worth. The teacher said something to her and soon she was walking their way. He looked away to make sure he didn’t get caught staring at her. The last thing he needed was yet another girl thinking she could win him over. He’d had enough of that. She walked past him to sit next to some boy with big glasses. He watched as she introduced herself to him, the corners of her mouth turning up in a smile. He shifted his eyes back to the table but realized his friends were also looking the girl. But then again, so was the whole class. It wasn’t everyday a new student enrolled into their school.

One reason being, to want to live in Lorraine meant you had to be rich, considerably. The second reason being the werewolf pack Red Skies occupied Lorraine and no pack, no matter how nice, welcomed lone wolves. Lorraine was also a town situated in the middle of nowhere. Not literally, but this small town in Maine was as nowhere as nowhere could get. So when Cass’s father had announced that a new werewolf family had being accepted into their pack, naturally everyone was curious including the humans but for a different reason. And if there was one thing the two races had in common, it was curiosity.

“What do you think?” Ian asked him.

He feigned ignorance “About what?”

“The new girl obviously” said Luke, his eyes still on the girl.

Cass shrugged because he really didn’t know. She was a mystery and what made it even worse was he wanted to be the one to figure her out.

“Her hair’s too short if you ask me” Ian continued.

“Ian, women do not like to be objectified, so I would refrain from doing so as it might incur their wrath” His friend and future Beta, Jake said. He was the silent and kind type; at least that was how the girls saw him and they adored him because of it.

Ian scoffed “Give me a break, half of them have snuck into the boys locker room on more than one occasion. And I’m pretty sure Amelia and her goons have already ranked us according to our big our dicks are.” He said the word with such spite.

“That still does not permit-”

“Shut up. You sound like some shady underground monk, which is ironic since you bang the most chicks after Cass.”

That was Ian and Jake. They went at it all the time probably because their personalities were opposites in every way. Ian was the loud and unrepentant flirt while Jake had the whole silent and sweet thing going for him.

A few minutes later, the bell rang and Mr. Worth called the class to attention.

“Okay, before we begin, we have a new student” he said and immediately everyone turned to the girl. They didn’t even try to be subtle about it and Cass couldn’t help but wonder if attention made her uncomfortable. He hoped not because the student body of Cassidy High were not afraid to stare.

“Her name is Grace, let’s welcome her with open arms” Mr. Worth said but I could tell he didn’t give two whether or not we did. At that he began teaching but Cass couldn’t concentrate.


What a nice name, he thought.

TeXt CoMpaRISON: salomE

I decided to compare two versions of Wilde’s Salome and while both are based on the Lord Alfred Douglas translation, there have been changes made to the translation. The first one I got from Project Gutenberg and the second, from ProQuest Literature online. The major difference I found was the way Iokanaan’s name was spelled. The Gutenberg version spelt it as Jokanaan, so there is a change from an I to a J. This change might allude to the fact that John The Baptist’s name starts with a J also. Another difference the comparison software caught is the different way the title was spelt. The ProQuest version does without the accent on top of the e, which when would make it sound different when pronounced. It no longer sounds remotely exotic and we have to remember that the play was first published in French and the accented e is as a result of that.

There is also little words changed in the style. The pro Quest uses archaic words and phrases such as thou wilt while Gutenberg uses you will. This might mean the Gutenberg version is a newer revision of Salome while the ProQuest is the older one, probably the original translation of the play. This different tells a lot about what the reason could be for why a newer version was produced. It was probably so it could appeal to a different, younger audience who might find the archaic words hard to deal with. It therefore switches them out with their common equivalent in today’s English.

Giving another example, in the ProQuest version, the line goes: If he die also, peradventure some evil may befall me. Verily, he has said that evil will befall some one on the day whereon he dies. On whom should it fall if it fall not on me?
And in the Gutenberg version, the line is: Furthermore, if he died some misfortune might happen to me. In any case, he said that the day he dies a misfortune will happen to some one. That could only be to me.
You can see clearly the difference in the words. Some words have been substituted for others in the Gutenberg version. There is a certain informality in the way it is written. It is also important to note that while the Gutenberg version included Audrey Beardsley’s illustrations, the ProQuest version did not. This affects the way you read the text and so of the two version, I prefer the Gutenberg version because it not only uses modern grammar and words, but it includes Beardsley’s illustration which is a vital part of the play.


cRiTiCaL ReVieW: ThE ImPortAncE oF BeiNG EaRneST

The importance of Ernest is a play by Oscar Wilde which stresses the triviality of a number of things including the institution of Marriage. There have been multiple film adaptations of this work but I chose to watch the 2002 film version starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Frances O’Connor, Reese Witherspoon and Judi Dench. It was about 90 minutes long and was very interesting to watch.

It began with the character of Algernon played by Rupert Everett fleeing from creditors, a scene that is not in the book. The book contains only three acts, one in Algernon’s place, and the other two in the estate of Jack and Cecily. The movie takes liberty with this and I could count numerous other scenes that were not in the book. Scenes like the Tattoo Parlor which I think Oscar Wilde would have loved because of how it undermines with comic relief, and Wilde is all about undermining even the smallest things, like a woman who flirts with her own husband. Algernon says it is not even decent. The movie also plays up Miss Prism and Chasuble’s romance which is not really addressed in the book. The movie gives Lady Bracknell a past that is entirely new, and this is a liberty the producers of the movie could get away with since it further emphasizes the triviality of marriage which is Wilde’s aim. Though I am unable to name them all, this added scenes are, in my belief, for the sake of the viewer. The medium with which the play is being represented changes the way it will be viewed. With film, people have to be kept engaged as they tend to become less interested when things remain stagnant. Which is why I think the first act was not only situated in one place but multiple settings.

Furthermore, while watching the film, I found that a lot of the things I took to be slightly irritating became a source of laughter. The way the characters tended to subvert every single ideal they could get their hands on was unpleasant for me to read. But watching those scenes play out on screen was an absolute delight. It was witty and made me appreciate Wilde’s play more. His work is not meant to be read but performed and I felt the strength of the play when when I was watching it being performed.

I failed to realize the scene where Algernon is being arrested by a solicitor in the movie was actually originally part of the text. I was impressed that this scene was added as I would not have known if I had only read the book and not looked up the movie. It is also peculiar how Oscar Wilde’s name cannot be found anywhere in the promotional posters for the movie. It might be because there aren’t enough active fans or fan bases that they could pander to. Or perhaps it was reenacting the first time the play was originally published which did not have Oscar Wilde’s name on it.
51CR9A6RDWL          The biggest change in the adaptation was the end where Jack finds out his name is actually Ernest. This scene was skewed so that Jack was actually not being earnest in saying his name was Ernest since his father’s name was actually John. It was a good scene and I think it makes good of those lasts words when Lady Bracknell says you seem to be displaying signs of triviality. It was a welcomed change and a good surprise especially for those who have read the book.

All in all, I think this was a good movie, great if one is looking for a light comedy romance.

In The FOoTsTEps oF: OsCaR WiLDe’s tHe HaPPy PrINce

The Tortoise and the Snail.
The Tortoise was a member of the Animal Kingdom, and the in-law of the snail. The Tortoise was a clever and crafty animal. One day, they quarreled and the Tortoise wanted to teach the Snail a lesson, and so, he decided to make a fool out of the Snail. The market was a large place with a lot of people going and coming, and the Tortoise felt this was the perfect place to enact his revenge on the Snail. One morning, he called on the Snail, and asked he go to the market with him and his tortoise family. When they got to the busy market, the Tortoise tied up the snail on a tree. He then told the other tortoises to hide in the bush behind the tree and that when anyone comes around wondering why the snail was tied up on the tree, they should jump out and they tell them all the snail did to him. And sure enough, animals came around wondering why the tortoise was tied on the tree, and the other tortoises would jump out and tell them what the snail had done.
The animals would then say “Bad Snail, how could you do such a thing?”
However, after an hour, the animals saw that the tortoise was still tied up on the tree and they wished he be brought down, that he had learnt his learning. The Tortoise learnt this but did not want to release the snail for he enjoyed the way the other animals treated the snail. So he left the snail there and the next morning when the animals got to the market, they saw the snail was still there. They were appalled and took the snail down. Then they turned to chide the tortoise, saying what he did was too much. And like that, the snail was back in their good graces while the tortoise was seen as the bad animal.


I chose to write an imitation on Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince. This is a fable tale which has a moral so I decided to write a fable too. However, my tale does not stress the importance of friendship. I decided to do the opposite with my story and made the two animal antagonistic towards one another. This is a deviation of the original idea and moral but saying that, this imitation does have its own moral. Its to never do things in excess or there will be repercussions. This imitation is good because it brings something entirely new. When one imitates, you do not copy the original idea as a whole but rather build on the original creating a different version. We see this in books like Heart of Darkness and Things fall apart. The latter imitates the former and brings something new to the table. The imitation is like a direct response to the original tale. What if you have a tale where the Prince and Swallow are not friends? All in all, the imitation adds diversity and makes you perceive the original tale in a different way.

pINtrESt PoSt: The pICtuRe Of DoRiaN GraY

In the picture of Dorian Gray, the Yellow book and the basil’s painting of Dorian Gray are at the root of the corruption for Dorian. The two things seem unimportant but they soon become the object of Dorian’s fascination.

We are introduced to the painting of Dorian at the beginning and based on the title of the text, we assume that this picture might play an important role in the plot. With Lord Henry’s influence on Dorian, Dorian becomes fixated on the beautiful portrait of himself and wishes to remain as young and handsome forever like the painting. He is corrupted by his own beautiful and this makes him seem quite conceited or maybe human, as we all wish to remain unchanged. Looking at the image of the picture, we are presented with three different versions of Dorian, according to the stages of his corruption. He is originally untouched but as time progresses and he commits more sinful deeds, his visage deteriorates. The roles change and we watch him obsesses over himself, wanting his picture to remain handsome like himself.

The yellow book is also an object seen in the book and is responsible for the corruption of Dorian Gray. He tries to live by this book which is morally questionable. The yellow book is a seemingly small harmless object. You think, just how harmful can an object be? But this book proves very influential on Dorian and this shows just how naive and young Dorian is at the time. The picture shows that this yellow book is simply that, a yellow book. And anyone looking at it will be unable to see the harm it can cause. It has more of an internal threat, very unlike a gun and other things that scream danger. Which makes it interesting that Wilde refers to it as The Yellow Book. Whether his intention was to make it seem harmless, we cannot know for certain. The harmless looking book parallels with Dorian himself, who seems harmless and innocent but is really not. He is referred to as Prince Charming and when we think of that, we think knight or good, but we never associate the title with something bad or evil. It wouldn’t be Prince Charming if it was. Yet we get this seeming Prince Charming who is just as poisonous as the also seemingly harmless book. This parallel is interesting and whether Wilde intended this will always be unknown.

pReSs coVeraGe oF thE wiLde TriAL

I chose a report from an Australian newspaper known as Argus. The report was published one Friday the 5th 1895, two days after the first day of the libel charge in London. This report on Wilde took up most of the whole column leaving only a small space for the other news. The report had a eye catching title, and a long opening. The word scandal was used in the title which suggests this was meant to be a sensational piece. However, contrary to the snaring opening, the whole report seemed impartial or perharps demurely leaning on Wilde’s side. It only narrated the facts of Wilde’s libel charge and did nothing else. I argue it might have leaned towards Wilde’s corner mainly because of the use of particular words. The report describes the cross examination Wilde was put through as stringent.  Also, the words sodomite or anything of the sort is never mentioned. Rather, the report refers to Wilde’s possible actions as criminal practices. Of which sort is never mentioned.

The report seems objective. Given the discussion during my class where most student noted their reports seemed to condemn Wilde and use words like shameful, sodomy and so on, this report never uses such words. There are several possible reasons the paper decided to take this neutral stance. It might have been due to censorship therefore, these words are never explicitly used. It is also possible that Australia had different societal values and Wilde’s trail was not as big of a deal. It didn’t matter as much there. The most plausible explanation however might be related to the stage of the trials. This is a report narrating the very first day of the libel charge. Nobody was taking this seriously yet. Wilde was on the offense and Queensberry was perceived  as someone terrorizing a well appreciated artist. The report even explains that During his cross examination Mr. Oscar Wilde indulged in many smart epigrams and paradoxes, his whole demeanour being marked by much extravagance, and causing great amusement in court. We know from later reports that this healthy visage deteriorates as the trials continue. At this point in the libel charge, even Wilde is unaware that he has dug his own grave. Everything has yet to fall to pieces yet. I believe this is the same attitude the report is taking. It raises the question as to whether other reports that formerly supported Wilde eventually turned against him. Maybe they started to see Queensbeery as a figure who did a service by exposing the indecent person in their midst.

Distance also plays a huge role in how I perceive this report. Australia is on a whole different continent and is very far from England. This might be the reason the trial would not matter as much. They are not at the heart of the feverish event so they are less invested. There was also the matter of context brought up in my lecture, and how many students who had chosen to do their report on a paper situated in England found that their reports lacked a introduction to the Wilde case and that the paper just dived right into the details of the case. For my paper, this was not an issue as the paper provides contextual background on the topic about to be reported as news. This might be because of the distance, the paper assumes most might not know about the case unlike in England where it is everywhere. It might also be because this is the first of the trial and also the very first day. It is also important to note that the trial was on the 3rd of April but the news was reported on the 5th which says a little about the communication at the time. It was a lot harder to pass news around back then than it is today. Where England would have got the news the very evening of the 3rd of April, Australia would have to wait two whole days to get a chance to read that news.

The report tells a lot about the time around Wilde’s trial and the people and media’s response to it. Coupled with that, it shows just how widespread the news of Wilde’s trial was.

Lightning Talk: The Personification of Concepts in “The Decay of Lying” and its significance to Wilde’s Aesthetics views.


In “The Decay of Lying”, Vivian preaches to Cyril about the importance of lying as an art form. The original reading given to the title was that one should not lie, and that a lie grows worse the more you build on it. However, we see this is not the case. Wilde personifies multiple concepts which suggests that he believes that art holds immense value and that it should be regarded above all else even above humans.

In “The Decay of Lying”, Vivian laments on the importance of art versus nature, something he believes to be a complete waste of time. He sees lying as a form of art that has declined in favor of facts and truth. Wilde employs concepts such as Art, Truth, Nature, and Life etc., and uses the pronoun “her” multiple times while referring to these concepts. In other words, Wilde gives these concepts a characteristic that is typically associated with a living thing. Wilde capitalizes the words Art, Nature and so on a number of times through the course of Vivian’s dialogue. He also uses the pronoun “her” more than once to refer to these concepts. To someone reading this piece, this unique style might not register as anything of importance as people were at that time and even in the present day, known to give their cars and countries female connotations. We might have heard people say “She’s beautiful” when they refer to a car or “America is known for her power.” However, we see as the dialogue progresses that Wilde uses this pronoun “her” to suggest that these concepts work on a cosmic level too grand for humans to really comprehend. In page 1084, Vivian narrates the tale of his friend, Mr. Hyde and it is in this scene that we see Vivian refer to the child as “it”. The ‘it’ here leads us to take the child as an inanimate object and this suggests that humans are nothing, that these concepts operate on a higher level humans are not privy to. There is also a scene where Vivian talks about the Greeks objection to realism and how it makes people ugly. “We try to improve the conditions of the race by means of good air, free sunlight… [and that] these things merely produce health, they do not produce beauty.” (1083). He uses the word “merely” suggesting health is not as important as the beautiful creations that Art can produce. This reiterates the idea that art is a magnificent things, the main point the dialogue is trying to convey. That lying is a form of art that Art has given to us and yet we do not practice it.

This raises the question of whether there is any substance to Wilde’s argument. He values lying as a form of art. To lie is to create. You are inventing something new when you lie. It also brings to mind the work of actors whose job is to lie, to take on a role and become whoever they have been tasked with playing. It is this performance that we watch and enjoy. This leads us to infer that lying is a form of art and while one might not be ready to accept the manipulative or morally skewed aspect of it such as lying for self-interest, there is something to be said about lying as a kind of performance.

Work Cited

Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994. 1071-1092. Print.

Written by Emiope Mimiko

for: Engl 376

on: Feb 14, 2016.

wOrD cLOuD


In the text mining, some words are bigger than others and that tells much about the text. The words Miller, Little Hans, said, and answered cannot help but be the biggest of all the texts since the story is told in the third person, as the Linnet is the narrator. Friendship is one of the bigger words as it is the key concept in the story. The word, Wheelbarrow is also quite noticeable in the cloud, as the miller is quick to remind Little Hans that he is giving him his semi useless, broken down wheelbarrow and so he should be more than willing to do things for him to pay him back. He constantly reminds little Hans using the wheelbarrow to guilt trip Hans into doing things for him.

Friend is also quite visible, as the miller claims he is Little Han’s friend even though he willingly lets his ‘friend’ freeze during the winter even though he has a warm house and enough food. The miller also claims to be a friend when he offers up his wheelbarrow for Hans to use on his farm. However, he is unable to give Hans his lantern even though he could do without it and this is what ultimately leads to Han’s death.

Notice devoted has been rendered small compared to friend which is interesting since the title of the text is “The Devoted Friend”. Why isn’t devoted just as large as friend or friendship and ratherin tiny print. This is because when reading the story, we soon realize that the miller is not as devoted as he claims to be. He is anything but a friend talk less of a devoted friend. The miller is more of a extortionist evident by how large wheelbarrow is compared to devoted. He uses that word to force Little Hans to do his bidding. Moving forward, words associated with Hans are not very visible. Garden, flowers etc. are small compared to other things.

The bigger words seen in the cloud prove the hypocrisy of the miller. It shows the true character of the miller and what he really values such as friendship and his wheelbarrow. It also show, with the smaller text, things that he does not value. The miller is not devoted, and cares more about himself till the very end.