Friday, February 23, 2007

11-12 Question

Oscar Wilde seems to emphasize the sense of sight most of any of the other senses. Why do you think that this sense is so important to Wilde? How does Wilde use his characters to emphasize this sense? Why is sight important to Dorian Gray, and how is it affecting his life (especially with the portrait), as well as the lives of those around him?

27 Comments:

Blogger KatieA said...

I think that sight is so important to Wilde because he is an artist himself, and seeing the beauty is what is most important to an artist. Wilde uses Basil to show this by making him an artist and having him be obsessed with the way that Dorian looks. Sight is important to Dorian because now Lord Henry showed him that he is beautiful looking. So the way he looks and they way people look at him is so important. And the sight of the picture is so important to him because by looking at it, it shows him his flaws and bad things he has done.

February 25, 2007 6:16 PM  
Blogger levik said...

I think that Wilde uses the sense of sight to show corruption. Everyone sees Dorian's beauty and innocence early in the novel, but now even Basil suspects corruption in Dorian and the public has gained a negative view of him too. People in society can see that corruption has taken over Dorian. I agree with Katie that Wilde uses sight because he is an artist in his own way, and artists usually use what the eye can physically see to get their point across. Basil's portrait of Dorian is definitely an example of how you can actually see what is happening to Dorian and the life he is living. His corruption is captured in this painting for all to see if the painting gets out. I think that Wilde lets Dorian keep his physical youth because people are starting to see the true Dorian anyways. Even though the painting is hidden, it is really being revealed by the way Dorian acts.

February 25, 2007 6:39 PM  
Blogger Nick W said...

I think sense of sight is so important to Wilde because through sight he explains how people see things differently and how each individual is entiled to believe what they want to believe. Without sight Dorian would never believe how beautiful he was, he found out by Basil and Lord Henry seeing the real Dorian. Dorian is then effected by this and becomes obsessed with staying the way he is. He doesn't want to change the way he looks.

February 25, 2007 6:39 PM  
Blogger alexmu said...

I think Wilde uses the sense of sight more than any other because looks and appearance are focused on. Dorian has the chance to see what most people usually cant, which is his soul (in the painting). This is significant because Dorian can then see his corruption, which plays a part in his downfall. I agree with Katie that sight is important with Basil because of his obsession with Dorian's looks.

February 25, 2007 7:26 PM  
Blogger Marie P said...

Beauty is something that is limited to the senses. The only way something can be described as beautiful is if it is seen or heard. I think that when writing a novel it is difficult to get the sense of hearing across in a novel. An author has to rely on visual imagery to really get a point across. Not only did Wilde use the most common sense in his novel, he lets the concept of aestheticism come across in his strong visuals.

February 25, 2007 7:49 PM  
Blogger David L said...

I think that Wilde's continual use of sight in the novel is used to show deception. As Dorian says, everyone had heard horrible rumors about him and his actions, but when they see his flawless face they cannot think anything bad of him. I think that Wilde is trying to say that appreciating visible beauty is more important than trying to realize what lies behind the visible. Sight is probably the sense that we use the most, and it almost seems like that concentration on sight makes it hard for people to understand what lies beneath the sheer physical attraction of something. In a way, this comes back to the idea from the preface that art is meant to conceal the artist. Maybe Wilde is saying that the whole world is "art", including ourselves, and the mask that we show society is our painting, which is meant to conceal our true selves from everyone's eyes.

February 25, 2007 7:50 PM  
Blogger melissa b said...

I think that Wilde uses the sense sight the most show beauty. AS people the first sense we use is sight. WE judge people by what they look like. As did Basil and Lord Henry, they judged Dorian based on his beauty. They thought he was perfect, but had no idea he would turn in to someone who does not think for himself and is easily corrupted. Maybe Wilde wants us to see that everything is art even us.

February 25, 2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger ZachM said...

I would say that the reason sight is used so much in the novel is that Wilde is commenting on Victorian society. What is the shallowest way to view someone? By the way that they look. I believe that Wilde is commenting on the shallowness of society (and not just Victorian society).

This question also leads me to wonder; how did Wilde view Aestheticism? I looked up the definition and it said the following: "Devotion to and pursuit of the beautiful; sensitivity to artistic beauty and refined taste." Nowhere in there does it that beauty has to be visually pleasing. I think Wilde views beauty as more than just how someone looks and is clearly stating it in the novel.

February 25, 2007 8:44 PM  
Blogger alex ma said...

I think that Wilde uses sight because of all the senses it is the only one that can be false. What you taste is what you taste, what you smell is what you smell etc.. Sight is the only one that can be false and deceived. That's why I think Wilde uses it predominately. In his time, looks were everything, everyone had to conform. Wilde didn't conform but for a time, he could deceive people.

February 25, 2007 9:32 PM  
Blogger LeAnneC said...

I think that sight is so important to Wilde because it seems as though sight is most relied on by people. Sight is what gives you your first impression of everything and thus it bases your judgement on things. I think that Wilde is a big emphasizer of judgment upon first glance and not to judge people about how they seem. I think that this personally hits close to him because of his own personal life living in the public eye. I think that by emphasizing Dorian's beauty he shows that people are blinded by what they want to see.

February 25, 2007 9:34 PM  
Blogger StaceyK said...

Wilde uses sight as the most of any sense because he wants to portray how his characters think and how they act. He has them act through sight and think through sight. Like Dorian thinks through sight beacuse his perception of life has changed after the portrait of himself, he views life differntly from the portrait beacuse it shows him visually how to live life. Wilde emphasizes this throughout the novel especially with Dorian beacuse he wants the audeince to see how the visual actions of the novel have changed Dorian's life.

February 25, 2007 9:41 PM  
Blogger TaylorW said...

I think that Oscar Wilde uses mostly the sense of sight because to him, it is probably the most important one to use in any part of life. He uses sight with the characters by describing their beauty constantly and with unbelievable detail. The whole story seems to revolve around beauty and youth, and beauty can't truly be described without a thorough description using sight.

February 25, 2007 11:07 PM  
Blogger jessg said...

Sight and perception are the most important aspects to Wildes life because in his mind, it is through perception that he was labeled a person unworthy of the society to which he was born into. Had it not been for how his society viewed him, he would not have had to go to court in order to justify himself. Sight in Wilde's mind is like a double edged sword. On the one hand it allows one to see all the art and beauty in the world, but on the other hand it corrupts people and allows for segragation as a result of views. i think that Wilde choose to have his character experience such strong sight because Wilde seems to have put a little bit of himself into each of these characters. Through Dorian, Wilde is able to express his anguish and anger over what his society has done to him over the color of his book jaket.

February 26, 2007 6:12 AM  
Blogger AdamSG said...

I think sense is used so much because, sight is the first sense that you can use to determine who a person is. So many people in this book already fool so many of the reader's by there first impression through sight. Until their first words are spoken, they can only determine who a person is by their image. A lot of society as a lot of people have emphasized purely look on how people look and not by what there actions show. Kinda like the phrase never judge a book by a cover. So many people in that time period were caught judging anything different very harshly

February 26, 2007 7:08 AM  
Blogger asaetveit said...

I agree with David, in that the sence of sight shows Deseption. Dorian being see in his beuty is shown as innocence even though his true layers of uglyness and curuption ly underneath the mask he is putting on for the world. Art is anything you want it to be you want it to be beuty, it's beuty. You want it to be fear, its fear. You want it to be evil its evil it all is interpritation of the artists work, the dificult part its seeing what it truly is, and good artists are good at making things hard to interprit,even to the point of Dorrian with Deseption, this is why wilde uses it, it makes it harder to read into.

February 26, 2007 7:14 AM  
Blogger chrisg said...

I agree with Leanne that Wilde uses sight the most because it is most common in every day life. Also, it makes sense that Wilde is using sight because it does pass judgement, and he does not want to be judged himself. Sight is important to Dorian Gray because it allows him to get pleasure out of things around him. It is a part of his hedonistic lifestyle, and this is killing him and making the people around him less interested with him, especially Basil.

February 26, 2007 7:16 AM  
Blogger Scott M said...

I think that Oscar Wilde thinks that sight is more important then the other senses because that seems to be the worst sense to lose. I think that the last sense that I would want to lose is my sight because there is so much that I would miss if I could not see. I also think that it is the easiest to describe in great detail which is something that he likes to do. Another reason is that when most people think of beauty they think of the beauty that they see. I think that he uses his characters to show sight by the way that while Dorian was experimenting with his senses he experienced two that pertained to sight. I think that it is so important to Dorian because his beauty is the only thing that he has going for him. Without that he is pretty empty and there is not much left of him. I also think that his beauty is the only thing that is not fake about him because I think that every other sense that you would feel from him is fake.

February 26, 2007 8:16 AM  
Blogger Haley C said...

I agree with Leanne. Sight is one of the most important things that people rely on. I think that because he has sight, it would be the worst sense to lose becuase you would have been seeing everything is color all your life, and then one day it is all taken away from you.

February 26, 2007 8:31 AM  
Blogger CaitlinO said...

I think Wilde uses sight as the most important sense because of the painting. It's always talking about how the painting is changing. He also is always talking about physical beauty, and I think because basil and dorian and henry hold that so dearly, that is why sight is so important. To be able to see beauty. It is hard to say but I think that would be the hardest sense to lose.

February 26, 2007 8:54 AM  
Blogger DaveV said...

I think that Wilde emphasizes sight so much because it is how he chose to show that things are not always the way that they seem. Like Levi said everyone can see that Dorian still has his youth and Beauty but the truth is his "soul" is becoming corrupted and noone can see it because it is hidden beneath his exterior. Sight is important to dorian becuase it essentially changed his perspective on life. When Lord H. told him that he wasn't going to look the same forever, he decided that the aesthetic things were more important to him.

February 26, 2007 9:38 AM  
Blogger NathanK said...

Dorian is experiencing everything in a very physically pleasurable way so of course he will see everything in terms of the senses. He no longer feels emotionally he only sees the effects of what he does without response. His aesthetic and hedonistic lifestyle is all about living for the pleasure of his senses so to get this across to the reader Wilde is giving as much detail as he can. Wilde specifically uses sight because beauty is usually seen rather than smelt or heard or touched.

February 26, 2007 9:41 AM  
Blogger Matt W said...

I believe it is because Sight, as with any other sense, when it is used alone without the other senses gives a false impression of what something is. I think of the great example that when you close your eyes and plug your nose, you can taste both an apple and a raw potato and not know the difference. This is because this single sense has been isolated from the other senses that work with it. Wilde uses sight so often to show that when you isolate it and base everything off of the perceptions given to you by your eyes alone, you will find that your picture of the truth differs with what the reality is. This is why I can look at a picture of something, but not know what it truly looks like without feeling it, or smelling it, or tasting it. If I live my life trusting only one sense, I will be frequently deceived and led astray by my false impressions. Dorian finds that his desire to live aesthetically, which is to live life only by the sense of sight (Physical beauty), is leading him astray, as his eyes will never give him the truth. Perhaps the lesson Wilde is teaching is that a book cannot be judged by its cover, nor can you look at someone and know who they are. I believe he is telling others to apply this to himself. People can look at Wilde's Sodomy and draw conclusions, but I believe he is telling the reader to use all the senses to determine the truth and not be led astray by simply what something looks like.

February 26, 2007 9:49 AM  
Blogger KatieA said...

THIS IS AMY BRYAN!! I think that he emphazies sight so much because some people are blind to things that are right in front of their faces. Some people need to open up their eyes and see things for what and who they truly are. Sight is so important because it opens the mind to possibilites and dreams of reality, to loose your sight would be one of the worst things possible.

February 26, 2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger jeffg said...

I think that beyond sight being one of the most vital senses, it is one that Wilde hates the most. I believe that Wilde realizes the importance of sight, but he only believes it is good when it is used correctly. Wilde continually expresses his distaste for those that judge him due to his homosexual orientation, and most of these judgments result from the sense of sight. Many people look at Wilde, knowing that He is gay, and immediately judge him for that. Wilde expresses his frustration for his struggle to not be persecuted. He does this through all of his essays, books, and especially Dorian Gray. Dorian is especially used to emphasize sight. Dorian is pictured in a portrait where sight is quite applicable as the most important sense. Dorian cannot stand to see himself. He cannot bear to visually and literally see his mistakes become apparent on his portrait. One way he solves this problem is by avoiding the sense of sight by hiding the picture and never looking at it. Dorian even hides the picture from the original artist, Basil. Dorian finally realizes what a terrible person he has become however he also knows that his fake identity is believable to society. He continues to trick the society by hiding his true self and only letting them see his fake identity.

February 26, 2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Kurt W. said...

I think that Wilde uses the sense of sight more than any other because it appeals the most to beauty. Audible and tactile things can be beautiful, but visual things are most often classified as beautiful. Wilde is appealing to the aesthetic because he is so pleased with visual beauty.

February 26, 2007 10:45 AM  
Blogger sonnyw said...

In most people's lives, sight is the most preliminary sense. The first judgement someone makes is through their sight, and slowly afterwards people may acquaint themselves through what they feel, what they hear, what they smell and taste. People most often associate Beauty with good looks (Dorian Gray, prime example), but beauty that reaches down to the soul appeals to every sense humanity has. I am starting to think that Lord Henry's belief in the power of the senses in exploring the soul is not at all superficial. In fact, he may be completely right.

February 26, 2007 11:03 AM  
Blogger Mark C said...

I agree with what matt and sonny are saying: Sight is what first judges someone, which is usually incorrect. I think it especcially pertains to Wilde and his characters because many, such as Lord Henry, live behind a mask. What you see is not what you get. Also, beauty is determined by sight and this is a major theme to the book and for Dorian.

February 26, 2007 7:17 PM  

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