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Abstract

In his article "The Gay Artist as Tragic Hero in The Picture of Dorian Gray" Henry M. Alley discusses the central artistic figure in Oscar Wilde's novel, Basil Hallward. As the novel's tragic protagonist, he commands the most pity and fear and serves as the most dynamic member of the dramatis personae. Alley contextualizes his discussion within Aristotle's Poetics, contemporary criticism, as well as Wilde's own comments. In addition, Alley looks at Hallward's attempt to hide or censor his gay feelings as parallel to Wilde's struggle with the various versions of the novel. Nevertheless, the characterization of Hallward celebrates the possible harmony between moral and aesthetic beauty, and, further, comes to affirm gay love, such as Wilde also saw in the lives of Shakespeare and Michelangelo. As other critics have pointed out, The Picture of Dorian Gray anticipates the tragic end of Oscar Wilde's own life. Nevertheless not enough stress has been placed on the sympathy elicited by the two dramas. Yet, in both the artistic tale and the biography, a gay man comes to a tragic end because of an admirable attachment to a being who nevertheless would or could not return the sacred "love that dare not speak its name."

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