Wilde Versus Hedonistic Society

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Today’s culture sells the lifestyle of pleasure to people around the world. Society says that the way to live life to the fullest and to achieve happiness is to do whatever makes the individual feel good, no matter what the action may be. This way of life was also sold earlier within the history of the world, and has gone by many names including Epicureanism in Greece and Aestheticism in the 19th century. Even though it has gone by many different names, it simply means living only based on emotions, usually pleasure. As many people have at least some type of moral foundation, it is sometimes difficult to see how a purely hedonistic life would play out and what consequences it would bring. In his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde brings the light that breaks through the shadows surrounding aestheticism. He makes his argument against a purely hedonistic lifestyle through his use of figurative language, such as diction, symbols, and characterization. Wilde uses rather strong diction to express his distaste for the hedonistic lifestyle, which the protagonist, Dorian Gray, as well as his friend, Lord Henry Wotton, chooses to live. For example, Lord Henry said, “and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties” to which Basil Hallward responds, “‘I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry [also known as Lord Henry]’” (Wilde 109). Wilde further reveals his revilement for their lifestyle as he explains what their lifestyle is truly like. They enjoy “loving for their mere artificiality those renunciations that men have unwisely called virtue, as much as those natural rebellions that wise men still call sin” (190). In other words, they love both sin a... ... middle of paper ... ...oday. It is unfortunate that this is not a book that is widely read around the world, so many people still do not understand completely all that is evil about a purely hedonistic lifestyle. Works Cited Benson, Peter. "Wilde and Morality." Philosophy Now. Philosophy Now, Issue 65 Jan.-Feb. 2008. Web. 23 May 2014. http://philosophynow.org/issues/65/Wilde_and_Morality Duggan, Patrick. "The Conflict Between Aestheticism and Morality in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray." Boston University Arts and Sciences Writing Program. Boston University, 2008-2009. Web. 23 May 2014. http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-1/duggan/ Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. The Works of Oscar Wilde: Including the Poems, Novels, Plays, Essays, Fairy Tales and Dialogues. Comp. William Dendy. Rosyln, New York: Black's Reader Service, 1927. 107-256. Print.

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