Dorian Gray And Death In Venice Analysis English Literature Essay

In chapter one I have shown that both Aestheticism and Nietzsche promote art for art ‘s interest and believe that art justifies itself and does non necessitate to hold a intent since art is purpose in itself, the intent of life. Nietzsche urges creative persons to look inside themselves and give importance to both the Apollonian, that is, the rational and the Dionysian, that is, the passionate side of their personality. Harmonizing to him, merely by accomplishing equilibrium between these two antonym and, in the interim, complementary forces will artists be able to make reliable plants of art. This chapter centres on the analysis of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Death in Venice from the Aesthetic and Nietzschean position. In both novels, the supporters are artists that cultivate beauty in their plants and lives and that oscillate between the Apollonian and Dionysian. Since Nietzsche points out that both the Apollonian and the Dionysian govern the human being, I will demo how these two forces compete in each character in their hunt for beauty.

Both Oscar Wilde and Thomas Mann struggled against what was prevailing and what was expected of an creative person in their epochs. They fought against going what Lord Henry criticises in The Picture of Dorian Gray: “ Modern morality consists in accepting the criterion of one ‘s age. I consider that for any adult male of civilization to accept the criterion of his age is a signifier of the grossest immorality ” ( Wilde 92 ) . Wilde ‘s new version of the old aestheticism deploys subjectiveness, individualism, and the liberty of art against the supposed objectiveness and professionalism of 19th century scientific discipline and its outgrowth in literature, that is, pragmatism. In Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann discovered much of the indispensable Nietzsche, his “ ferocious war on morality ” and his transvaluation of moral into aesthetic values.

As affirmed in “ The Decay of Lying, ” Oscar Wilde ‘s doctrine on art insists on the fact that art should happen flawlessness in itself, that it has as its object non simple truth, as Victorians expected it to show, but complex beauty. As he points out in the foreword of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, “ the creative person is the Godhead of beautiful things ” and “ those who find beautiful significances in beautiful things are the cultivated ” ( Wilde 5 ) . A common characteristic of The Portrait of Dorian Gray and Death in Venice is their jubilation of beauty in artistic creative activity. Therefore, Lord Henry Wotton believes that “ Beauty is of the great facts of the universe, like sunshine, or spring-time, or the contemplation in dark Waterss of that Ag shell we call the Moon. It has its Godhead right of sovereignty ” ( Wilde 29 ) and Aschenbach thinks that “ nature itself trembles with rapture when the head bows down in court before beauty ” ( Mann 460 ) . The creative persons ‘ chase of beauty constitutes both their inspiration, the intent of their creative activity and their Hell.

Through their jubilation of art as a chief subject, The Picture of Dorian Gray and Death in Venice portion some common points in their analysis of the creative person. In his work, The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche affirms that artistic creative activity depends on a coaction between two opposite forces which he footings the “ Apollonian ” and the “ Dionysian. ” He believed that true artistic creative activities have to be generated by people that were non merely extremely civilised and cultured, but besides passionate. Harmonizing to him, merely in the balance of these forces could art originate. Nietzsche described the good creative persons as keeping a balance between two forces, the Dionysian, or those associated with the God Dionysus and the Apollonian, those associated with the God Apollo. While Dionysus was the God of fecund nature, spring, regeneration, vino, and poisoning, and orgiastic extravagancy, Apollo was the God of light, of signifier which shapes thrusts and inherent aptitudes into lucidity and order. While Dionysus was frequently associated with music, a passionate, steeping art signifier, Apollo was associated with sculpture, a stiff, degage art signifier. Like Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde and Thomas Mann believe that the struggle between witting will and uncontrolled passion, between reason or morality and passionate art represents a really serious battle in human being. This is the ground why the creative persons ‘ flight towards decease in both fictional plant is a descent to either extreme and a failure to keep equilibrium between these two antonym forces.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the three major characters, Basil Hallward, Lord Hnry Wotton, and Dorian Gray are at the same clip different aesthetes and parts of the same ego. In Death in Venice, the poet Gustav von Aschenbach is the lone supporter and creative person in the novelette, but he has common characteristics with all three different characters from Oscar Wilde ‘s novel. Each of these creative persons, unique in their manner of thought and personality, undergoes serious alterations provoked by factors beyond their control.

Aschenbach ‘s resemblance to Basil is manifested in his Apollonian concern with wash uping work. They both believe that difficult work leads to flawlessness and that flawlessness is the key to the artistic endowment. They both reject passion because they think it blocks the chase of excellence. Hallward ‘s aestheticism is manifested in his complete devotedness to sole artistic creative activities. His aspiration and battle is to go one with his art. He searches in the outside universe for the perfect manifestations of his psyche and when he finds them, he can make chef-d’oeuvres by painting them. His fatal misake is that in making the portrayal of Dorian Gray, Basil “ puts excessively much of himself into it, ” ( Wilde 18 ) , which Lord Henry criticises for at some point in the novel, by reasoning that “ an creative person should make beautiful things, but should nil of his ain life into them ” ( Wilde 25 ) .

Gustave von Aschenbach is introduced as the utmost instance of the civilized Apollonian, neoclassical creative person who becomes a hero of the times given his self-controlled mode of laboring on the border of exhaustion:

Gustave Aschenbach was the poet-spokesman of all those who labour at the border of exhaustion ; of the bowed down, of those who are already worn out but still keep themselves unsloped ; of all our modern moralizers of achievement with scrawny growing and bare resources. ( Mann 426 )

He is, therefore, the archetypal modern creative person. However, the fact that he has spent his full life without admiting his passions and desires foreshadows possible jobs in the hereafter because, harmonizing to Freud, repressed passions will sooner or subsequently rise to the surface. Therefore, he bit by bit abandons his committedness to Apollo when he foremost journeys to Venice and, subsequently, when he decides to stay at that place. He passes beyond balance and ground, replacing beauty for morality, even though the cost of such a pick is decease.

Far from being fruitful to the artistic intent of their lives, their exposure to the perfect authoritative beauty of both Dorian Gray and Tadzio overshadows the ensuing art itself. Both Basil and Gustave ‘s universes start go arounding around their Muses and, unawares, they grow dependent on their presence. Therefore, Hallward admits that: “ I could n’t be happy if I did n’t see [ Dorian ] every twenty-four hours. He is perfectly necessary to me ” ( Wilde 18 ) and Gustave, one time he meets Tadzio, can no longer go forth Venice, even though the metropolis does him serious injury: “ He felt the ecstasy of his blood, the affecting pleasance, and realized that it was for Tadzio ‘s sake the leavetaking had been so difficult ” ( Mann 455 ) .

The obsessional esteem for the perfect physical beauty is what binds Basil Hallward and Gustave Aschenbach and what leads them towards devastation. Once they discover perfect beauty, the Dionysian force is unleashed and it can barely be controlled. Both creative persons worship beauty in their creative activities. As Aschenbach declares, “ in about every creative person ‘s nature is inborn a won ton and unreliable proneness to side with the beauty that breaks Black Marias, to individual out blue pretenses and pay them homage ” ( Mann 441 ) . The ideal of beauty is represented in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Death in Venice by the vernal Dorian and Tadzio. Basil confesses that Dorian “ is all my art to me now ” ( Wilde 16 ) and Gustave decides that “ [ Tadzio ] should be in a sense his theoretical account, his manner should follow the lines of this figure that seemed to him divine ” ( Mann 461 ) . However, the beauty of the two immature work forces is non merely a beginning of artistic inspiration, it really shortly starts exercising influence on the creative persons. Basil argues that “ [ Dorian ‘s ] personality has suggested me an wholly new mode in art, an wholly new manner of manner. I see things otherwise, I think of them otherwise. I can now animate life in a manner that was hidden from me before ” ( Wilde 17 ) and in Aschenbach ‘s instance, “ [ Tadzio ‘s lovely phantom ] was that filled him with content, with joy in life, enriched his stay, and lingered out the row of cheery yearss that fell into topographic point so cheerily one behind the other ” ( Mann 457 ) .

Once witting of the serious function beauty dramas in their lives, Basil Hallward and Gustave Aschenbach become concerned to conceal it, fearful that if they reveal it, they will in fact, unveil their psyches. Therefore, Basil tells his friend, Lord Henry, that he will non exhibit the portrayal, his expansive chef-d’oeuvre, because “ I will non bare my psyche to [ the universe ‘s ] shoal prising eyes. My bosom shall ne’er be put under their microscope. There is excessively much of myself in the thing, excessively much of myself ” ( Wilde 18 ) . Aschenbach, excessively, feels a unusual alleviation because “ the universe sees merely the beauty of the completed work and non its beginnings nor the conditions whence it sprang ; since cognition of the creative person ‘s inspiration might frequently but confuse and dismay and so forestall the full consequence of its excellence ” ( Mann 461 ) .

The tragic stoping of Basil and Gustave is a effect of their inability to happen a balance between the Apollonian and the Dionysian sides of their lives. Lord Henry warns the creative person that “ the lone manner to acquire rid of a enticement is to give to it. Defy it and your psyche grows ill with hankering for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous Torahs have made monstrous and improper ” ( Wilde 26 ) . Accustomed to defy any other ideas than those related to artistic creative activity, Hallward and Aschenbach find themselves incapable to command their inordinate esteem for beauty and they are, hence, destroyed by it.

Lord Henry Wotton is an aesthete of the head. If Basil is an creative person who uses the coppice, Lord Henry is an creative person who uses words. Lord Henry ‘s doctrine on life and art resembles in a great step that of Nietzsche, in that they both celebrate the primacy of single senses and feelings over ground and morality. Lord Henry, like Nietzsche, urges the creative person to accept his Dionysian, dark and cryptic universe of the inherent aptitude, to populate his life to the full and take advantage of its pleasances, for art is a signifier of hyperbole, the merchandise of spontaneousness:

I believe that if one adult male were to populate out his life to the full and wholly, were to give signifier to every feeling, look to every idea, world to every dream, I believe that the universe would derive such a fresh urge of joy that we would bury all the maladies of medievalism and return to the Hellenic ideal, to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, as it may be. ( Wilde 25 )

Lord Henry, like Nietzsche, believes that the unsatisfactory position of modern art is due to the persons ‘ fright to admit their passions, that is, the Dionysian side of their ain egos, and turn them into something beautiful and reliable: “ The mutilation of the barbarian has its tragic endurance in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every urge that we strive to strangulate broods in the head and toxicant us ” ( Wilde 25 ) .

The influence that Lord Henry ‘s doctrine exerts on Dorian Gray can be compared to the influence that the trip to Venice has on Gustave Aschenbach. Both Lord Henry and Venice represent the voice that alerts the pent-up side of Dorian and Aschenbach. Both Dorian Gray and Aschenbach change wholly when they come in contact with the delicious influence of Lord Henry ‘s charming words and the exoticness of Venice. When he meets Henry Wotton, Dorian feels that “ the few words that Basil ‘s friend had said to him had touched some secret chord that had ne’er been touched before, but that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to funny pulsations ” ( Wilde 26 ) . The position of going to Venice unleashed in Aschenbach a “ craving for freedom, release, forgetfulness ” which the creative person admitted to be “ an impulse towards flight, flight from the topographic point which was the day-to-day theater of a stiff, cold and passionate service ” ( Mann 420-421 ) .

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