Friday, February 13, 2009

Dorian Gray Chapters 1-3 Fishbowl Question

Oscar Wilde's writing is full of epigrams and he does not waste a single word; he is obviously very educated. However, in his characters he has placed a very high importance on beauty and bascially described intelligence as useless and superficial. What do you think Wilde is trying to say about intelligence? How does beauty play into art and how does this make art unimportant/important?

18 comments:

IreneL2010 said...

I think that Wilde is trying to get across the idea that the society he is living in is superficial and doesn't take into consideration what is on the inside of a person. I agree, Wilde was an extremely intelligent man and I feel that he didn't get the respect he deserved during the time he was alive. Though Wilde wants people to be accepting of the intellect and ideas of others, he believes that society cannot achieve this. I believe that Wilde is trying to show how beauty is just a facade to cover something deeper, like intelligence, that may or may not be there. Though someone may be beautiful on the outside, they might not be and vice versa.

Adella said...

It seems to me that Wilde believes intelligence is about thinking. He is contradictory but is clearly in full control of what he is writing. For him intelligence is about writing what you think, challenging others and having others challenge him. He seems fond of intellectual battles, weather it is over philosophy, beauty, or art.

Eric said...

I think that Oscar Wilde is just saying that in society it only matters what your beauty is and people will judge you based on your presence. Beautiful art is admired and people adore it but ugly art people just throw to the side and never look at it. Without someone noticing you because of your beauty, you will not be able to show your intelligence. Intelligence needs beauty like beauty needs intelligence. If art does not have beauty people will not stand to look at it and maybe interprupt it for what it really is.

Anna P2009 said...

Oscar Wilde liked to write about things that were controversial. He liked to make fun of the current times and truly to point out the flaws in society. I agree with Irene in saying that the society that he was living in was superficial. Within the first 3 chapters and the preface we have seen the importance of beauty and wealth. Everything is basically a facade and all that matters is your outward appearance.

DrewB2009 said...

I think Wilde is saying that the society they live in bases too much importance on beauty and not enough on intelligence. People in his society are better off being good looking rather than intelligent because they will get more respect. I think Wilde is also saying that art is worthless unless the subject of the artwork is beautiful.

KatieM2009 said...

I think Wilde is trying to show that superficial beauty recieves higher respect than inner beauty and that bothers him. He makes it clear that he wants the deeper meanings of things to be respected and wants that inner, deeper beauty to be shown to the world because that is more substantial than the superficial beauty that society currently respects. Also, I agree with Eric's comment that only beautiful art is admired but who is the judge of beauty? To one person something beautiful may be totally hidious.

SarahE2010 said...

I think Wilde is being satirical. I think he is trying to say that intelligence really is important, and beauty is not. The fact that beauty plays such a big role in art, I think Wilde is trying to say that art is superficial because it appeals to the people who value beauty over intelligence. Therefore, art is unimportant because it is superficial.

LaurenB2009 said...

I think Wilde is saying that in the world we live in, intelligence is basically useless. Being smart may allow you to get a good job or, In Wilde's case, write a novel but it is someone's beauty that will make them happy in life which is the greatest aspect of life. Wilde doesn't define beauty as only good looks but also inner beauty. Both types of beauty relate to art. What we see is outer beauty but only the artist can see its true inner beauty. Art is important because it is used as someone's way of expressing their inner beauty that cannot be seen on the outside.

KaitlanW2009 said...

I believe that Wilde is a little sarcastic in the way he talks about beauty and intelligence. In the book everyone is very wrapped up in beauty, and perfection but they don't seem happy. To me all the characters seem to be miserable, their lives are shallow and seem to have no importance. Personally I feel like Wilde is trying to portray that if beauty is all that is important to a person they normally become lonely, and self loathing and can never be satisfied. I feel that he is saying that beauty is far from everything.

jordan s said...

I think that Oscar Wilde is criticizing society for placing so much importance on beauty and love. It seems as though there is an extended metaphor in this book that characters cannot live without love. Not in the common sense of romanticism, rather another person with whom they pass the time. Characters seemingly go through cycles of meeting eachother and breaking from eachother, sometimes resulting in death or alluding to death (Basil threatening to stab the portrait with a knife, Sybil's brother threatening to hurt Dorian). Wilde is saying that people lack the intelligence to be completely independent on their own, magnified by their continuing relationship patterns.

shellim2009 said...

Wilde, through Lord Harry, says that intelligence is useless. Only beauty matters in the society of today and intelligence will really not get you anywhere. Beauty, in art, and in real life, is there to get people somewhere in society. However, Wilde's last statement in his preface was "All art is quite useless" so in essence, he contradicts himself and says that both beauty and intelligence are useless. Beauty is supposed to make art better, but according to Wilde all it is, is "useless".

mollyp2010 said...

First of all, Im not sure that these are all necessarily wildes views, but he does portray them as many of Henry's views. But if we were to say that these were wildes views, I think he's trying to say that art is only truly good art if it is beautiful, and beautiful people are the only ones who are worth knowing. As Henry says: He keeps intellegent people as his friends, because if they are enemies theyll surely be more cunning than himself.

RickM2009 said...

Wilde is purposely creating paradoxes in his story. He is giving the reader the option to actually think while reading. By hyperbolating beauty and down-playing intelligence, I believe his message is that both have equal importance. The beauty in art is equally important to the knowledge found in intelligence.

TaylorS2009 said...

I think Wilde is just making the point that society is so infatuated with beauty and appearance, when it should be more about the intelligence of people.

KendraS2009 said...

I think that Wilde is saying how in society the importance of beauty is ranked higher than intelligence. It is more important to look good than it is to be smart. Art is supposed to be beautiful. This makes art very important because beauty is important.

Lauren L said...

I think oscar wilde is trying to show the ignorance of people and the way they judge and precieve things. Most people can only see and judge what the eye sees, basically the physical part of the art and only a small amount of people can feel the emotions and the real beauty that went into the creation. Intellegence is a lot of times overlooked because of the importance of physical characterisitcs. Intellegence is achieved where looks are given. Maybe this was an issue that Wilde was bothered by, or the thought of writing a book about intellegence would not be read by most people because most people would not understand.

AdrienneB2009 said...

Wilde is trying to say that intelligent people can be as useless as their words. "Speak less, say more" is a common saying.
A writer knows better than anyone that beauty in words can make the piece a work of beautiful art. I know this is a book and it's meant for reading but I get lost in the words. Although a character may have said something quite valid, I really see how it took a longer ime to say anything back then. Or does it just point out conciseness in honesty.

Steven W said...

I agree with Eric that beauty is necessary for intelligence and vise a versa. However I believe that in Wilde's view physical beauty is more important. The fact that Dorian is beautiful is what got him to the position that he is in. It was not by his intellect that rose in social standing. My only thought however is some of the most famous painting in the world are either beautiful or grotesque such as some of Picasso’s works yet people still noticed Picasso’s work. Wilde I believe in many ways argues both sides of an argument and contradicts himself so much that a true sense of his position can't be determined for sure. In many ways I think that Wilde points out the way society views things and then shows the ills and potential benefits in some cases of viewing life in such a manner.