Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dorian Gray 19-20 question

If Wilde contradicts his preface in the book several times, why do you think that Wilde even put the preface in the book? Was he just trying to write a story or did he want the reader to be left confused?

25 Comments:

Blogger zverges said...

I think that Wilde contradicts himself in the Preface because he does not want his readers to be bias toward either side. If he makes the side that he agrees with look better than the opposing side, then his readers will assume that his overconfidence makes him wrong. If he does not share a second side, then he will reach an even higher level of controversy. I think that he conflicts himself on purpose, but he is not trying to confuse us.

March 08, 2007 1:36 PM  
Blogger Marie P said...

The entirety of the book is full of contradictions. Wilde always states either side of an argument in order to represent himself in misleading ways. The basis of the book is to be found somewhere in the middle. Do not be wicked, but do not be good. Be popular, but have enemies. Wilde writes the preface in order to state what he truly thinks, then fills the book with questioning in order for the reader to come up with how they think on each matter. To think for yourself is a task many have a hard time fulfilling, Wilde wants us to think on our own while reading his novel.

March 08, 2007 2:55 PM  
Blogger levik said...

I think that Wilde contradicts himself in the book and in the preface because he wants the readers to make a decision for themselves. He presents two sides to a lot of issues and topics so that the reader can see both and then choose what he or she agrees with, like Marie said. I think he throws in some bias towards particular sides, one being the value of beauty. He contradicts himself but also wants the reader to accept the book for what it is. Like Dave L. said in the fishbowl, Wilde wants us to look at the book and notice the subjects it talks about, but as he states in the preface, the book is not moral or immoral, it is well written or badly written. The reason Wilde put the preface in the book is so that the reader will notice his contradictions. This way the conflicts and paradoxes in the novel can be discussed by the readers instead of the novel telling us what to believe.

March 08, 2007 3:06 PM  
Blogger CaitlinO said...

I think Wilde contradicts himself in the preface because he wants you to think for yourself. I think the main message of the book is be yourself and don't worry about what other people think about you. I think that is why he contradicts himself. He doesn't want the readers to judge his personal life. He wants us to find our own meanings in the book. He does not want it to be laid out there for us. He wants us to think. He does not want us to just go along with what he thinks.

March 08, 2007 6:42 PM  
Blogger LeAnneC said...

I agree with Marie, I kind of think that the preface is mostly based on his values. I don't think that all of them are his views but I do think that most of them and the theme he portrays in it is what he truly believes. I do think that he thinks that art is art and that people read way too much into it. I think that he knows that people would read his book and try to read into it, therefore he just decided to make the reader confused. I think that he wants to make both sides apparent but he wants to do it in a fashion so that people will think for themselves and find their own judgement, not just what they are told.

March 08, 2007 8:18 PM  
Blogger Kyle G said...

I think that Wilde contradicts his preface because he wants to prove his preface correct. No offense to everybody else, but it seems to me that after reading this book and the background information, Wilde was too arrogant to let people think for themselves. I think Wilde emphasized the contradictions to make them look bad, when you think about it most of the people that contradict the preface are considered bad, even evil (Lord Henry, Dorian, etc.) at least by most of us. By making these points look bad, he by comparison makes his views and beliefs look better to the readers. Hopefully this is all making sense, basically I think that Wilde wrote the preface to tell the world how things should be and, in his opinion, as they are. He then used a controversial, possibly even immoral, book to make the dark side of society look like they preferred what he hated. I think he hoped to make these contradictions look as bad as he thought they were, and hoped to make other people think the same way he did.

March 08, 2007 8:34 PM  
Blogger ashleyg said...

I don't think that he was trying to ONLY write a book or just leave the reader confused. I think Wilde put the preface in the book because he gives the reader something to think about from the beginning. Also, although he may contradict himself, every reader has a different opinion on what the book is about. You can see from our fishbowls that we all have different views on what is going on in the book. I think he made it so controversial so that there would be this disagreement and it would get the reader(s) thinking about everything in general. If that makes sense.

March 08, 2007 8:44 PM  
Blogger Haley C said...

I think that Wilde put the preface in the book to make people think and to make connectins that would have not been made without the preface. I think that he contradicts himself because he wanted to society that he was right and he wanted to write it words. He wants to make people think for themselves so he makes it confusing. I also agree with Marie that the preface i his values.

March 08, 2007 9:02 PM  
Blogger Amy K said...

In some ways I agree that Wilde puts the preface in the book and all of his contradicting ideas in it to get the readers to think for themselves and form their own opinions, but I think it would be even more interesting if Wilde chose to put all of these contradicting ideas in the preface and in the book just so people wouldn't be able to figure him out. He leads an interesting life and one that was definitely considered immoral at the time, so I wonder if he just doesn't want to be labeled and if he wants his thoughts, ideas, and soul to remain a mystery to his audience.

March 08, 2007 9:06 PM  
Blogger David L said...

I think the main reason that Wilde riddles this book with so many contradiction is to do as he says in the preface: "To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim". The point of his cotradictions, is, first and foremost, to conceal himself within his art. He places his characters on so many different sides of ideas and leaves the reader second guessing themselves as to which ideas are truly Wilde's and which are his way of playing the devil's advocate through his characters. As to the other reason for his contradictions, I think this relates to the first part of that quote along with the one that says "It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors". Wilde gives us so many points of view to measure them against each other and create our own opinions from his "art".

March 08, 2007 9:25 PM  
Blogger ZachM said...

I don't believe that Wilde practiced everything in the preface. I don't think that he was trying to hide himself behind his art. Wilde was way too outgoing a person to want to hide behind his art. I think that, like a lot of the book, Wilde was trying to make a point about the contradictions and hypocrisy of society. I also think that Wilde was trying to show the complexity of himself and used the preface. He may have intended for his enemies to take the preface and the book the wrong way (just because he liked to throw his lifestyle in peoples faces), but I think that Wilde was trying to show that he was more complex than what people judged him as. He may have believed in the things he said in the preface, but I don't think he practiced what he may have preached.

March 08, 2007 9:32 PM  
Blogger alex ma said...

I agree with most of the people above, in that the preface is Wilde's way of making us think for ourselves. Whether homosexuality is in the book or not, it was a part of Wilde's society, even if people refused to accept or even recognize it, (that is only one of many "taboo" topics that Wilde has dealt with in society and in his life). I think Wilde is using the preface in conjunction with the novel as a vehicle to make us think for ourselves, and not just say or do what society thinks we should. I think Wilde wanted to change the way people thought and he used the preface/novel to try and do that.

March 08, 2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger DaveV said...

I don;t think Wilde contradicting his preface has anything to do with him wanting to confuse the reader. Like Lyons said i think wilde is trying to "conceal" himself in his art. He says one thing in the preface and goes against it later to leave the reader questioning Wilde's views or beliefs. So not confusion but more of a place of uncertainty...i dont know what exactly im trying to say.

March 08, 2007 11:34 PM  
Blogger sonnyw said...

I associate Wilde's contradictions with teaching. It's kind of like the Socratic Method; in order to wholly understand an issue one must be able to see and defend the opposing points of view. I would bet that for some people, Wilde's writing may sound sloppy and worthless because of its scattered contradictions. But I see it as a sign that there is real depth in the author's thinking.

March 09, 2007 7:03 AM  
Blogger Scott M said...

I think he wrote the preface to show readers what he really believed and why he thought it was ok for him to write the rest of the novel. Regarding the contradictions I think he purposely made those to make the readers think about two different sides and that allows the readers to come to their own conclusions. So I agree with Sonny when he said that the contradictions are a way of teaching. I don’t think that his intent was to ever leave the reader confused but to leave them thinking about what he wrote.

March 09, 2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger chrisg said...

I think that Wilde tries to contradict what he wrote in the preface to get the people that read the book to start questioning the book. When they start questioning the book they will start to question their own lives, and look inward so they get to know themselves better. I think he wanted to confuse the reader.

March 09, 2007 8:19 AM  
Blogger melissa b said...

I think Wilde tries to contradict himself in the preface becasue he wants to state what he believes before anyone reads the novel. He does that so no one draws conclusions about him and him as a writer.

March 09, 2007 8:24 AM  
Blogger asaetveit said...

I feel that Wilde contradicted himself so many times to leave us confused and unable to read to deeply in the book. He makes the story of Dorian Gray to give us a story, but then adds the preface (or already had) to give a guild line to the story. Even though they contradict each other it adds to the mystery of what to actually pull out of the book, leaving people unable to read into the artists (Wilde).

March 09, 2007 9:03 AM  
Blogger ashleym said...

Just like the discussion we had during the fish bowl, I think that Wilde purposefully confuses the reader so that you can't really tell what his opinions are. That is apparent in the preface where almost everyline contradicts its self. I think that Wilde is hiding behind his book. He doesn't want the reader to really know where he stands on issues such as morals, love art and religion.

March 09, 2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger jeffg said...

I think that Wilde contradicts himself within the preface and book to make the reader decipher things for themselves. He wants us to have to think for ourselves. Contradictions take the pressure off of Wilde because now we don't know what he really believes, so it makes us focus on what we simply believe. Also, that way we don't judge the artist as much. As Wilde put it, "The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim." Wilde contradicts himself in order to conceal the artist. Wilde doesn't want us to know what he thinks about different things because he understands how judgemental people can be. He also knows that many people look too far into art to find something to believe in after being told. He, however, wants us to be confused so that we are forced to find which opinions best relate to us so that we can better understand our own believes and thoughts on certain subjects. Oscar Wilde does want us confused, because that makes us think for ourselves as opposed to agreeing to what others say or judging their own opinions.

March 09, 2007 9:51 AM  
Blogger AmyB said...

I think the reason that wilde condradicts himself is to get the reader to really open up their minds and to really think about what he is saying or what he is trying to say. I think he is trying to get the reader to think more in depth. Maybe he wants the reader to be continuously going back to the preface and to think about what the book is saying and what the preface is saying. He wants there to be some friction.

March 09, 2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Matt W said...

That's a very interesting point of view Sonny. I have to say that I agree with you in that Wilde uses a common teaching technique of playing "devil's advocate". It's only in the fact of dispute that one can truly learn to accept and defend certain truths. We can say we understand something and believe in it, but it is only once we have had to stand up for and defend truths or beliefs that we truly grasp an understanding of it. I think the Preface is the only solid statement of Wilde's philosophy of life's truths. He uses the novel to illustrate these points by using situations that either run parallel with the ideals of the Preface, or they starkly contrast the Preface for the express purpose of presenting a juxtaposition of the two. The lessons that Wilde teaches are simple and complex, moral and immoral, right and wrong. As the preface states, if critics disagree over a work, then the artist has accomplished his task. I believe Wilde in all of his contradictory elements, has accomplished his task.

March 09, 2007 10:30 AM  
Blogger NathanK said...

I agree with sonny that there was never the intention of confusion in Wilde’s contradictions. He thought it all out and really wanted the reader to create their own opinion on the topics he brought up. This was a way for Wilde to stir up and provoke the society he was in without directly saying anything deemed terrible by their standards.

March 09, 2007 10:31 AM  
Blogger Mark C said...

I don't think the preface is a waste. In fact, I agree with sonny and nathan that Wilde wants us to create our own opinions. It even talks about art being interpreted by the individual in the preface itself.

March 09, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger jessg said...

I think that Wilde put the preface in almost as an outline of what life should be like. Much like the 10 Commandments outline how the human race should behave, I think that Wilde threw in his own interpretation of how the human race should behave. This story is of people who had been following those guidlines, but went astray. That is where the contradiction comes from. Wilde wasn't necesarily trying to leave the reader confused, he is just showing what happens when people don't follow his "rules".

March 09, 2007 12:37 PM  

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