Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Abigail Cheever

Second Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth Gruner

Third Advisor

Dr. John Marx


Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray calls for a reinvention of aestheticism during the Victorian Age. Wilde felt that the Victorians had surrendered any ornamentation in art to the rules of formality in religion and politics. He also believed that art should teach solely through its existence that there is a realm above mankind. Art should not be used for anything else. Dorian curses himself when he uses his portrait to exchange his soul for eternal beauty. Wilde wrote this novel as his work of art. And, the novel is to "civilize" the Victorian public, to return them to a Hellenic and Renaissance ideal, thus contradicting his aesthetic beliefs. Also, Wilde used the novel to cunningly mask his homosexual life. Wilde ingeniously presents his didactic anti-didacticism through a complex and complicated novel about art and its dangers and rewards.