Monday, March 17, 2008

Fishbowl 17-20

In preface of Dorian Gray, Wilde states that, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." Does the novel confirm or deny this comment?

19 comments:

iains said...

The book confirms this quote because it neither promotes nor discourages moraltiy in society, stating merely that morality is superfluous and depends entirely on one's perspective.

CecilyJ said...

I also agree with Ian that the book confirms this quote. Dorian confirms the fact that people can determine their morality through their decisions. The book does not argue the morality of a person, or a book, but merely the effects that acitons have on a person. There is no definite definition for what morality is and Dorian is evidence of this as well.

brooksk said...

Yes. As we discussed earlier, this book is all about perception and how our own eyes see "art". This book is another piece of art and as he says in the preface, art is on the surface of thought until somebody takes it into their own interpretation, their own perception. From there, diversity follows and an opinion is formed. Just like the preface, this book is perceived in the same manner by all. They either like it or dislike it.

michaelm said...

I would have to say that I don’t necessarily agree. Morals are up to the reader to determine and people may perceive or interpret morals differently. Sure books can be written well or badly written, but I do believe that there is such thing as a moral or immoral book. There is a lot of irony and lessons to be learned in The Picture of Dorian Gray, and all of the epigrams in the preface and throughout Lord Henry’s dialogue are morals.

afoyle said...

I don't think that the perception of an individual's morals are the same as the morals through the eyes of the entire society. It doesn't matter what one person says if he cannot form the words to influence his society. You cannot expect a poorly expressed work of art to make a powerful impression. It does not matter the artist's goals nor does it concern the message. If the work is good enough in the eyes of the society, for good or for ill, the message will be sent.

tuckerk2 said...

I agree with Michael in that books can in fact be moral or immoral and I believe that Dorian Gray proves this point. I consider the book to be, in fact, a very moral book in that Dorian's immoral actions were detrimental to the image he saw in his portrait and all these bad things that he did caught up to him in the end. This book, like most others, ends when whatever character did wrong in the book, be it the antagonist or protagonist, faces retribution for what they have done. By promoting that people will always get what's coming for them, Dorian Gray is a moral book.

EmmaL said...

I do not think that a book itself can b e moral or immoral. The book can have ideas in it that are bad or good, but the book itself is not immoral. In Dorian Gray, Dorian tells Harry that he should never give the book he gave to Dorian to another person. He says this because he thinks the book is immoral and made him bad, but it was Dorian who chose to act on these ideas that the book gave him. I think that the novel Dorian Gray proves that a person as an individual chooses their path based on ideas they have gotten from other places including books, but the books are not the immoral thing, the person who takes the wrong path is immoral.

courtneyw said...

I agree with Brooks. I also think it is all about perception and how our eyes see art. We can either see it one way or another. We either like them or don't like them. We might see somethign else in it, but the whole object is a book is to give us something to enjoy. If we enjoy it, we like it. If we don't enjoy it, we don't like it. There is really no such thing as moral or immoral book... someone is going to like it or hate it. It is only how you take it!

MilendaN. said...

I would have to agree with Emma,I dont think that a book itself can be moral or immoral. I believe that it wasnt the books fault that changed Dorian it was Dorian himself. Dorian may have gotten some ideas from the book,but it was he who chose his actions and his path.I agree with Wilde that books are either well written or badly written,because its always the reader's opinion and not the author.

katherineg said...

I think that books can be immoral because a book is where an author instills his/his opinons, but it is how the reader interperates it that makes it immoral or moral. Also, I think this is becuase Wilde is just trying to get people to think for themselves and not read too deep into things and instead form their own opinons.

abok said...

i think that the qoute is right because if the book is well written then you get into the charaters head and start to hate what they are doing or love what they are doing and you read faster, the better the book is the more you want to read and the characters become your friends. You might not like what your 'friends' are doing in this chapter but if the writing is intisting then you will read to the next chapter to find out if it got better for them.

alliem said...

A book can never be universally judged as moral or immoral, it's impossible. I do think that a single person, however, can decide for themselves whether they find a book to be morally accurate based on their own ideas and faith. I don't feel that this book confirms or denies this quote, it is merely the creation of it’s author and left for people to interpret as they would like.

rebeccar said...

I agree with the idea that morality in literature is in the eye of the beholder. Books present situations, ideas, and characters that inevitably fit into one's idea of morality v. immorality, but are not moral or immoral themselves. Therefore, I agree with this quote. We can take ideas from books and apply them to our own beliefs and interpret them how we please, but there are not actual set-in-stone facts about whether books are moral or not. It is different for everyone to a certain degree.

Emily H. said...

I think that the book promotes the quote. There are many themes throughout the book that show that there is immorality in society but it is the truth. Even tough we may not like the way things are perceived or shown does not mean that they don't happen the way they do. For example just because we want to believe that appearance isn't important to people in our society and in this society doesn't mean that it happens that way.

Jackie.d said...

I would also agree that this book confirms Wilde's statement, because morality is deteremined by the viewer, just as with the portrait. I believe it was Wilde's interpretation of himself and his own morals for what he saw in the painting because in the preface, Wilde writes that "it is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors", and so therefor it is left up to the audiences interpretations to decide whether they consider the book to be moral. In the preface, Wilde also states that "All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril". So Wilde does not encourage going beyond the surface level of his novel, and therefor encourages people to decide simply whether it is well written or badly written. So yes, the novel confirms this comment.

ryanb said...

I would agree with this quote because I believe that morals are completely perception. Different people have different morals so there is practically no way that a book could be considered universally moral or immoral. Besides, all the novel does is tell a story about a guy named Dorian.

emilyl said...

I agree with Jackie that "morality is determined by the viewer", but I do not think that a book being well written or badly written has anything to do with whether or not a person thinks it is moral. It is all interpretation, like the way Dorian interprets the changes in his picture, especially at the very end. A person can interpret a book however they want, and maybe Dorian Gray could be considered "immoral", but not because it is badly written. It is definitely well written, but a person can take the ideas presented and say they are evil, and so that would technically mean the book was "badly written", which is definitely not what Wilde would think about his own work, so I don't think the novel confirms or denies the statement, because even the statement is subject to different interpretations by different people, which might be the point of the whole thing. :)

JoeR said...

It is up to the reader to determine whether a book is moral or immoral. Everyone reading the book takes a different viewpoint on the symbolism of the book. There are no standards on which is right or wrong, so how can you say that a book can be either moral or immoral, when there are so many perceptions of morality? Someone can make a stance on whether they believe the book conveys a moral or immoral message but that is only their opinion, so there can't be a right or wrong answer. This book doesn't really answer the question because one persons viewpoint may not agree with anothers so we can't say whether it is moral or not, it is only up to the individual to make the decision whether it is moral or immoral.

Kyle B. said...

I think that, in itself, the book proves that it is well written. It portrays no side as being better than the other; Dorian's life is wonderful and full of light but he is troubled and plagued by his painting. Books can be written with good grammar and then also with bad grammar, but unless it was unintentionally written poorly, every author wrote his/her book with the purpose of creating a good work of writing. Ideas are labeled moral and immoral by individuals and are therefore not judged as such by everyone that would read them.