As we know from works such as the Water Babies, Victorian society deemed it necessary for art to be useful, partly to entertain but mainly to morally educate. Willed clearly states that ‘All art is quite useless’. This was one of his many confliction with Victorian society. An artist should not make art for any purpose and yet this very book is used in education today undermining his work. Willed remarks: To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. An artist should create beautiful things but should put nothing of his own life Into them.
And this leads me on to my main argument, How much does Oscar Willed put of himself into his own work? In a letter, Willed stated that the main characters of the picture of Dorian Gray are in different ways reflections of himself, he says: “Basil Halyard is what I think I am: Lord Henry Is what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be – in other ages perhaps’. Reflections become extremely Interesting to notice In the novel. Possibly he strongest reflection In Dorian Gray to Wild’s life Is Willed/Lord Henry and Dorian/ Lord Alfred Douglas.
Douglas was Wild’s lover. Douglass was reckless and headstrong. He was doted on by Willed. Lord Douglass was younger than Willed. Willed had status and money, Douglass was good looking, very similar to Dorian. Douglass was shaped by Willed and then he seemed to turn sour against him, for example: When Douglass fell Ill with influenza, Willed nursed him back to health, a favor that was not returned, when Willed became Ill, Douglass sent him a letter, explaining that he would be charging his hotel bill to Willed.
It Is Doorman’s own reflection that kills him. Willed makes it clear that whatever the reader may find in the text belongs to them. He cannot be held responsible. What ever you may find is a displacement of your own fears/feelings. Just as the picture reflects Doorman’s own displaced life. Those who find ugly meanings In beautiful things are corrupt without being charming, this Is a fault. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril, a warning that e may find something in ourselves that we would not like.