Chapter

The Picture: Dorian Gray

Colin McGinn

in Ethics, Evil, and Fiction

Published in print June 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238775
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598005 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198238770.003.0006
 The Picture: Dorian Gray

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Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, McGinn argues, presents in an extreme and exemplary form, the power of the aesthetic to conceal and to express evil; it shows us what happens if the aesthetic is allowed to dominate over the moral. The character of Dorian has an exterior beauty, which is taken as a sign of virtue, but he has an inner ugliness or an ugliness of soul, which is identified as moral depravity. The lesson of Dorian Gray, McGinn argues, is that the aesthetic and the moral are inseparable, and it is only the concept of the beautiful soul that can keep the aesthetic impulse under control.

Keywords: beauty; evil; morality; The Picture of Dorian Gray; Wilde

Chapter.  9144 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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