Friday, June 22, 2012

Life Is Art: Dorian Gray Chapter IV

(p. 55-71)

What I like...

The first scene to open this chapter is in Lord Henry's study room with a small library, something I've been longing to own.

"It was a very charming room, with its high-panelled wainscoating of olive-stained oak, its cream-coloured frieze and ceiling of raised plaster-work, and its brickdust felt carpet strewn with silk long-fringed Persian rugs."

Of course I can't find a picture exactly like what was described in the book, but this image can quite satisfy me...


What it's all about...

Dorian came to tell Lord Henry about a theatre girl with whom he fell madly in love. Sibyl Vane is a beautiful girl and a good actress. Dorian told Henry how he met her, and this chapter was closed with a telegram announcing that Dorian would soon marry Sibyl.

My random thoughts...

Cynical thoughts about women and marriage
This chapter only strengthens my idea of how 19th century society thought about women. Lord Henry had also mentioned something cynical about marriage in chapter II. Quoted from Lord Henry:

"Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious; both are disappointed."

"No woman is genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of mind over morals."

And that's all because women were uneducated at that time! It really annoying me to read it, and I think this is the point where I began to dislike Lord Henry. A lot.

Not only detested marriage, Lord Henry also saw love and romance in a negative point of view.

"When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others."

After reading Dickens with his Romantic style, it's quite striking to find how shallow Wilde has described about love.

I also think Dorian's love was just false passion; he adored Sibyl for her beauty, not for herself. Again here, Dorian worshipped something mortal, the flesh instead of the soul.

The psychological study object
It became clearer that Lord Henry was interested in Dorian Gray as an object of observation on human psychological.

“It was delightful to watch him. With his beautiful face, and his beautiful soul, he was a thing to wonder at. It was no matter how it all ended, or was destined to end.”

I just realized how Oscar Wilde loved paradox! There are many throughout the book, but I will quote one of them,

"A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures."

Life is art
Lord Henry looked at life as we looked at art. For him, life was the real work of art. From this I began to see the flickering light of what this book is all about; I think I have found the red thread between what Lord Henry did to Dorian and its relation with the picture. It's only a flickering light, though, but I hope to see the full shining at the end...

What I still don't get it...

"To note the curious hard logic of passion, and the emotional coloured life of the intellect--to observe where they met, where they separated, at what point they were in unison, and at what point they were at discord."

“He was like one of those gracious figures in a pageant or a play, whose joys seem to be remote from one, but whose sorrows stir one’s sense of beauty, and whose wounds are like red roses.”

The characters development...

There's nothing much to say about this, I better keep it for next chapters...

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