Monday, March 05, 2007

Blog Question

In chapter 17 Lord Henry Defines Art, Love, and Religion. Do you think Wilde agrees with what he has written? (Why?/Why not?) What would you define each as?


Blogger levik said...

I think that Wilde would agree with Lord Henry's definitions of love and religion but disagree with his view of art. He says that art is a malady, or an ailment. In the preface he describes that no artist is ever morbid. These points seem to contradict a little. Lord Henry describes love as an illusion. I think that Wilde agrees with this. Wilde has expressed that love is just a one time passion that we hope to repeat. He believes that people pretend that the feeling of love continues but it really is an illusion. Throughout the novel he has used Lord Henry to say that love is temporary. For example he tells Dorian that his love for Sibyl is just the first of many people he will be fascinated with in his life. I think that Wilde agrees when Lord Henry describes religion as a fashionable substitute for belief. Lord Henry has been used to display Wilde's belief that religion is what people use to feel comfortable and to have a purpose in life. Lord Henry is more concerned with life itself and believing in what life has to offer. He thinks that religion deals with concepts outside of life and people choose to believe in this instead of concrete concepts, which is why he believes it is a substitute for belief. I would define art as an individual's interpretation of a concept, idea, object, etc. Religion is an individual's feeling towards God or some other higher figure and how their actions affect life after death. Love is a special connection between people that no one else can describe or interfere with.

March 06, 2007 11:57 AM  
Blogger zverges said...

No offense to the posters of this blog, but according to the conversation held in class on Monday, Oscar Wilde would most likely be contradictory in his views of Art, Love, and Religion. “Art is an ailment, Love is an illusion, and Religion is a fashionable substitute for belief.” These are the concepts that Lord Henry describes in chapter seventeen. I agree with Levi that some of these ideas are contradicted in the Preface and throughout the book. On the other hand, I think that Wilde does not necessarily agree or disagree with the conflicting views that he has presented. I believe that Wilde is meaning to be conflicting so that we, as readers, do not take sides on the matters discussed. I think Wilde would like us to create meaning for ourselves, thus the conflicting views and emotions seen in this book.

March 06, 2007 12:37 PM  
Blogger Amy K said...

I wasn't in class for this discussion on Monday, but there seem to be a lot of signs and symbols in the book that would indicate that Wilde both agrees and disagrees with Lord Henry's definitions of love, religion, and art. In the preface especially, Wilde contradicts almost everything he is saying. I just finished the book and I think that the hypocrisy and contradicting themes/events serve the purpose to make the reader think; not to necessarily choose a side and stick with it. I have to wonder though, from Wilde's personal life, if he really believed in love (he didn't love his wife, but he had a lover)and if he didn't believe in art, why would he bother pursuing a career in writing/producing art?

March 06, 2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger sonnyw said...

If you continue to read a little bit past the part that Zach quoted in his post, Lord Henry goes on to decree: "Scepticism is the beginning of Faith." And when the Duchess asks Henry, "What are you?" Henry skillfully dodges by saying, "To define is to limit."

This presents a contradiction. Though Henry is willing to slap one-word definitions to profound concepts like Art, Love, and Religion, he refuses to define himself. He does this for one of two reasons: 1) Henry thinks the question is rude and intrusive, or 2) Henry is unable to define himself at all. As an aestheticist, he has spent life finding pleasure in temporary things that stir his senses. He has looked outward, critiquing the world he sees without ever turning his critical eyes inward. I believe option #2 is correct.

Though I have gone completely astray from the blog question, I wish to make one last point. We have said in class that Dorian has become much, much worse than Henry as he has aged. But while Dorian has become more vile in his ways, Henry has stayed relatively the same (Henry is static, Dorian is dynamic). Perhaps the reason is that Henry has never looked inside himself, has never seen the depraved state of his "soul". Dorian, however, has been forced to address himself (at least somewhat) through his portrait. Basil's painting turned Dorian's soul into a tangible thing, which assaults the waking senses and cannot be fully ignored. Wilde constantly emphasizes the importance of experiencing life through the senses, yet his oft reiterated quote makes it clear that a person's inner and outer being are intimately linked. To be complete, one must learn to "cure the soul by means of the senses, AND the senses by means of the soul."

March 06, 2007 7:58 PM  
Blogger Kurt W. said...

I think that Wilde would agree with the definitions that Lord Henry presents. Wilde believes in the pursuit, not necessarily art. While Wilde was himself an artist, it is the beauty of his art that is his focus, not the art itself. Does that make sense? As for love, I think that Wilde disliked the idea of traditional love. Wilde held the same belief as many of the famous philosophers of ancient Greece. And finally, for religion, I think that Wilde greatly dislikes religion. After all, religion is the way of the populous, so Wilde would not agree with it.

March 06, 2007 8:00 PM  
Blogger Kyle G said...

I agree with Kurt, I think Wilde would agree with what Lord Henry said about these three subjects. I don't think that Wilde necessarily like art so much as he liked what art depicted. Lord Henry said that art was basically undesirable, which I think means that it portrays what is desired. Basically it teases people, almost offering them something they want but cannot have, therefore it is undesirable. As for love, I think that because Wilde found it so easy to abandon his wife for a man, and then later have that same man abandon him because he was no longer successful he would truly believe that love was an illusion, and did not exist. I also think that Wilde hated religion as well, because most religions condemned what he stood for. And I don't just mean his homosexuality, but everything that he though people should do. It seems to me that Wilde believed that people should follow their passions, and just about every religion (except maybe Satanism) forbids its followers to follow these passions, many even require them to abandon them as much as possible.

March 06, 2007 9:28 PM  
Blogger Kyle G said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 06, 2007 9:28 PM  
Blogger ashleyg said...

I think that Wilde did believe in the definitions that were given. In todays world I would say that art is the actual physical beauty of something/an in dividual, love is the emotion or the feeling that you feel towards this thing/individual, and religion is the groundwork or the things that society tells us is right to think or feel about these things/individuals. If that makes any sense.

March 06, 2007 9:30 PM  
Blogger alexmu said...

I also think that Wilde would agree with the definitions of art, love, and religion that Lord Henry has written. I think that Wilde, unlike Lord Henry, would think that art is desirable. Dorian's picture of himself played a big role in the book and was said to be a very appealing/desirable piece. I think Wilde approached love like Lord Henry. He didnt have a very serious attitude about it and didnt really care about the feelings of anyone else.

March 06, 2007 9:57 PM  
Blogger Nick W said...

I would define Art as any piece of work that shows the true self of one person expressed in a type of work. I think Wilde wanted to show that Art is a way to express yourself. Love is a deepest feeling you can have for someone. And religion is the belife in anything or anyone that is supreme. I think Wilde's overall message was to explain how being yourself is fine and you shouldnt have to change your beliefs ofanyting to be accpted.

March 06, 2007 10:31 PM  
Blogger StaceyK said...

I would also agree that Wilde would agree with Lord Henry's definitons because of the way he wrote the book. Art would be something that can only be seen emotionally. Love is something of an emotion you can feel, it is one of the deeper emotions. Religion is the seening of the emotion through an individual's soul. I think Wilde and Lord Henry would describe art as the most important feature out of those three and not worry about the two others as much.

March 06, 2007 11:01 PM  
Blogger TaylorW said...

I agree with Levi that Wilde wouldn't agree with the definition of art that Lord Henry gives. The point that Levi stated in the preface and Lord Henry describing art as an ailment do contradict eachother. I would define art as any work that someone has created. This includes anything from a masterpiece painting to a song that is absolutely horrible. I would define Love as any person having a wanted and uncontrollable attraction to another. People who are in love want it and can't help but be around eachother. I would define religion as a belief in a higher being(s) that someone can look up to for help. If you think about any religion, people mostly turn to their gods for questions and prayers that they want answered.

March 06, 2007 11:18 PM  
Blogger jessg said...

I agree with Kyle. As we have previously said, I think Wilde wrote this book to exemplify many of his thoughts and beliefs. I also think that Wilde uses Lord Henry to act as his own voice. As Kyle said, Wilde's history of being judged harshly for his beliefs based on church values probably made him disasociate himself with the church and everything the church stands for. Additionally, Wilde had a run of bad luck with love which more than likely made him feel that love comes as a whim and passes just as quickly. Also, as this book has evolved, I think that Wilde has turned his focus from glorifying art to mocking it. As the book has progressed, it seems to me that Wilde has devoted his writing to depict the dark and evil side of art and to making it as unapealing as possible. This makes me think that although this book is centered around art, Wilde doesn't truly value it at all.

March 07, 2007 6:39 AM  
Blogger chrisg said...

I think that Wilde might believe with parts of how Lord Henry defines art, love, and religion, but I think that Wilde is just trying to contradict himself. Throuhout this entire book Wilde has tried to contradict what he had said before, especially with what was said in the preface. Like Sonny said, in the fishbowl, I think that Wilde is trying to get the reader to not only wonder and question about the book, but also wonder and question about themselves. This would need a deep look inside the person, which is something like Sonny said in this blog, that Lord Henry does not do. I would define art as a way to release one's creative perspective. Love as a connection that requires work, trust, openness, and a desire to make it work. Religion as a way for people to believe in something without knowing for sure if it is correct, and it provides a way to live a life that will help them into an great eternal life.

March 07, 2007 7:38 AM  
Blogger David L said...

I do think that Wilde believes in his descriptions of Art, Religion, and Love. Along with what Levi said, Lord Henry continually talks about Love in the novel as an experience we wish to repeat, something that, once tasted, we search for interminably without truly finding that same thing again. Dorian Gray seeks religion without belief in any of the religions he follows for whatever amount of time, and indeed, although the British people are considered "Christians", they rarely show any strong belief in the novel. As for Art, I think Wilde is saying that Art is a maladie to those who are not aesthetics. Instead of appreciating art for its beauty, some people are plagued by a need to see the true meaning of the art.

March 07, 2007 7:39 AM  
Blogger melissa b said...

I do think Wilde would agree with lord Henry's definitions. As kurt said he "believes in the pursuit, not necessarily art". Eventhough he was an artist, i see artists focusing more on the art and its beauty thatn the artist itself. We don't look at a painting and start talking about how the artist is this and this, and so one. We look at the art and try to find out what the artist is saying and how the piece is portrayed. As for love I don't really think it was big for Wilde. At least not the traditional love.

March 07, 2007 7:57 AM  
Blogger Scott M said...

I defiantly think Wilde agrees with what he is writing. In every case that I could find Henry defines everything with just do whatever pleases you most. I also think the views that Dorian expresses are reflective of Wilde because at one point Dorian says, “I have never searched for happiness… I have searched for pleasure.” (202). It makes sense to me that these would be his views because I don’t think he would write a book like this if he didn’t believe what he is writing because that would lead to false accusations. I think art is about the pleasure you get from it but love and religion are both things that I believe you have to give things up for.

March 07, 2007 8:22 AM  
Blogger ashleym said...

I agree that Wilde believes what he has written about Lord Henry's definition of art, love and religion. Art to me is a portrayl of someone's opinion on beauty, like Ashley G said. I think that love is the strongest emotion that can be used in both good and bad ways. I believe that religion is peoples belief in a high power that they turn to when they are i need of help or forgiveness

March 07, 2007 8:34 AM  
Blogger CaitlinO said...

I do think that Wilde would agree with some of what he is writting. But I think that mostly, he is just contradicting himself. I agree with nick in that wilde's overall message was to be yourself and don't worry about being excepted by others. There are many things and quotes from the preface that contrdict what is written in the book. Like levi said how he describes art in the preface and how he describes it in the book are contradicting themselves.

March 07, 2007 9:17 AM  
Blogger Haley C said...

I agree with Ashley M and Kurt about what Wilde wrote on Lord Henry's definition of art, religion and love. Art is something that someone draws to find beauty in things. Throughout the book Wilde brought up the desire for beauty and how strong it was. I think that religion gives people the power to make them feel more wanted and not alone and have some sense of knowing what is to come and i last i think that love was use in the book in more bad ways than good.

March 07, 2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger KatieA said...

I do think that when Wilde wrote he has using his own opinion. As a writer you will always be infuencing what your writing and putting your beliefs in the writing, even if your not trying to. I dont think he would write someting he didnt believe in. I would define love art and religion similar to Wilde, but I am not into art or an artist in any way so I dont really know how to define it. Same with religion, I am not religious at all so I dont know how to define it. But as far as love goes I would define it as taking a risk.

March 07, 2007 9:39 AM  
Blogger KatieA said...

THIS IS AMY BRYAN---I think that wilde would agree with henry's definition of art. I think that art is something you do to express yourself and to find beauty of things that aren't necessarily pretty at first. I think that love is something you aquire for something or someone, maybe your art.

March 07, 2007 9:44 AM  
Blogger jeffg said...

I really think that Wilde agrees with his definition of religion, but not so much with the definition of art and love. Wilde seems to disagree with himself on these two issues though. Throughout the book, we realize that the preface is perhaps the opposite of the actual morals or stories within the novel. So, it is hard to tell what Wilde truly believes on these three issues. But what I have come to understand is that art is not to be defined, limited, or judged. Lord Henry, however, as Levi said, states that art is a malady, or ailment. However, it seems to me that the portrait within the novel is more than an ailment. It is the way Dorian lives his life. Also, the preface says that art never dies and that it is differently interpreted between each and every individual. Concerning love, I think that Amy makes a very good point. Unfortunately though, you were not at our fishbowl on Monday. We seemed to establish that we were relating Wilde's life to this book too much. We found that there really is not much if anything about homosexuality in the book. We are only saying that because we are looking for things to exaggerate to make it seem like homosexuality because Wilde led a homosexual life. Still, I do agree with you. I don't know if Wilde's true views concerning love are coincide with Lord Henry's. Wilde did indeed admit to not truly loving his wife. Instead, he had a homosexual lover. We also know that Wilde stated that love between to men was stronger than love between man and woman. So I really do believe that Wilde disagrees with Lord Henry's ignorant and stuck up view towards love. Even Lord Henry is caught lying about his love life. We know from other character's in the book that Lord Henry actually did have a good relationship with his wife.
My definitions of these three topics are as following. First, art is something that really is individually interpreted, but it can be judged and found immoral or moral. Some pieces of literature or art do not need to be released and known by all. Some should be kept to those that are willing to look into more immoral issues. Next, I think that love is the highest form of relationship. It should only be held between man and woman. However, there is nothing wrong with a respectful or friendship between to persons of the same sex. Sexually though, only heterosexual relationships should be allowed. Finally, concerning religion, I think that we should all look to church to find morals and values. Though many critics may say that religion is only a comforting idea for those that are not willing to disagree, many of us know that religion is quite the opposite. Religion is the truth, and it is our job as individuals to find it and follow to our best. Religion is comforting, not because we need something to tell us what to do, but because we need to be reassured of what we know is true for ourselves.

March 07, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Matt W said...

Good point Kurt. Throughout the novel, we have seen Lord Henry's character used as a "Soapbox" on which Wilde has stood and proclaimed his ideals. In many ways, this last lecture for Henry seems to stick more to the roots and nature of Lord Henry's character than the ideals of the writer behind the novel. I agree that in many ways, what Lord Henry says isn't truly what Wilde believes, but since he's no longer alive we can only postulate. I assume however that Wilde would never place something so profound in what this novel, which in many ways seems to be his soul, which he didn't want to be conveyed. I think his desire was that this book would be a guide to the thoughts of Wilde, and in turn all the main philosophical points made by Lord Henry must be one and the same with Wilde.

March 07, 2007 10:12 AM  
Blogger NathanK said...

Throughout this entire book Wilde has been saying one thing then right away he will contradict himself. I think that he has put bits and pieces of his beliefs into bits and pieces of his book. At the same time he contradicts himself so that the readers have to interpret for themselves what is being said. I think that Wilde specifically agrees with Lord Henry's definition of art. It is a way to show the artist and to express the beauty in something that may not be easy to find beauty in. I agree with Matt that of all the characters Lord Henry is the way for Wilde to express his ideals while the other characters are there to contradict.

March 07, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger DaveV said...

I think that Wilde may agree with what he has written simply because, but as zach has pointed out, he contradicts his words in the preface numorous times through out the book. I think Wilde wants people to believe that he is all moral and what not, and "dont judge me" like in the preface, but its hard to see that he is like that when we know his backround, and the things he believed in with hedenism and what not, and for him to wirte a book with these values in it just emphasizes to me that he believes in what he is writing. Art- anything visual that requires emotion. Love- not real.

March 08, 2007 11:27 PM  

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