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Additional info for One Day, Oscar Wilde
She passed again into the sphere of art. There is something of the martyr about her. Her death has all the pathetic uselessness of martyrdom, all its wasted beauty. (90) However, Dorian’s love affair with the actress Sybil Vane is one of the conflicts between art and life. Dorian loves Sybil Vane only in the world of art, not in real life when she does not act. Therefore, for Dorian, her suicide, though painful it is for him, is regarded as “her finest tragedy” by him because she is again turned into a heroine.
Even Dorian admits that “In hypocrisy, he had won the mask of goodness” (166). Hence, both Lord Henry and Dorian, shaped by Victorian society, fail to understand the role of art in human life as advocated by Wilde through his aestheticism, and follow Lord Henry’s New Hedonism instead, which “asserts the primacy of a doctrine of pleasure that absolves individuals from the ordinary responsibilities for their actions” (Gillespie 145). However, despite Wilde’s claims that “an artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them” in Dorian Gray and “To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim” in the “Preface” of the novel, critics generally agree that the novel “is very much the author’s autobiography” (Belford 170).
If “it is used as a luxurious means of passing time” as Dorian and Lord Henry did, “it is no better than the drugs to which Dorian eventually falls victim” (30). Such a view does not conflict with Wilde’s notion of art that art and life are two distinct spheres. On the contrary, in his essay “The English Renaissance of Art,” he writes, “Love art for its own sake, and then all things that you need will be added to you. es/ … 20). In the same essay, he also argues that beauty lives for ever and unlike “philosophies that fall away like sand and creeds follow one another like the withered leaves of autumn”, what is beautiful is “a joy for all seasons and a possession for all eternity” (20).