Picture of Dorian Grey

2321 Words10 Pages
From the Writer “Dorian Gray the Escape Artist” is the culmination of my work in my WR100 seminar, Fantasy at the Fin-de-Siècle. The final assignment was to create a research paper based on an interesting problem or paradox I had found in Oscar Wilde’s book, The Picture of Dorian Gray. For me, one of the book’s most fascinating elements was Dorian’s immature behavior; though he grows older, he never seems to “grow up.” At first, I investigated how my idea related to aestheticism and what Dorian’s immaturity showed about aestheticism; however, I could not find a solid way to prove my thesis. My greatest problem was being unsure of how writing a paper based on a research problem in The Picture of Dorian Gray constituted a researchable argument and not just a literary analysis. Hoping to gain a different perspective on the assignment, I met with fellow classmates to talk out my problem. It turned out that they were having the same issue with their essays, and through discussing my paper with them, I realized that my topic was too narrow to be easily supported by sources; the idea of Dorian growing older without growing up was interesting but could not easily be supported with sources outside the novel itself. With this in mind, I modified my thesis, claiming that though Dorian Gray demonstrates aesthetic behavior in The Picture of Dorian Gray, his fascination with artistic things serves less to pursue aestheticism and more to evade his dark past. In this manner, I argued, Dorian could be considered more of an escapist than an aesthete. At last I had an argument that could easily be supported by sources on aestheticism (e.g. Talia Schaffer’s and Walter Houghton’s work); this made writing my first draft much easier than before and allowed me to focus on the essay’s flow and style. Writing “Dorian Gray the Escape Artist” was no easy task, and I often felt
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