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The Victorian Gentleman vs. The Dandy

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Zita Hüsing

on 6 February 2014

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Transcript of The Victorian Gentleman vs. The Dandy

The Victorian Gentleman vs. The Dandy

Victorian Age and the Victorian Gentleman
Fin de Siècle/Décadence
Oscar Wilde's depiction of Dandyism
Dandy vs. Gentleman

Table of Contents
Castronovo, David. The English Gentleman: Images and Ideals
in Literature and Society. New York: Ungar, 1987.
Stevenson, Robert L. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. New York: Dover Publications, 1991. Print.
Waters, Karen V. The Perfect Gentleman: Masculine control
in Victorian men's fiction, 1870 - 1901. New York: Lang, 1999. Print. Vol. 3.
Wingfield-Stratford, Esmé. The Making of a Gentleman.
London: Williams and Norgate,1983.
Wilde, Oscar, and Michael P. Gillespie. The Importance of
Being Earnest. New York, London: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

The Gentleman
The Dandy
Dandy vs. Gentleman
"a chivalrous, courteous, or honourable man" OED
Originally: Lower rank of nobility
Noble man/bearing arms
Today: Every male person who displays decent behaviour -especially towards women- may be called a gentleman.
Victorian Age and Victorian values
Science vs. Faith
Commercial spirit
British Empire the most powerful
Rigidity of society
Low tolerance for crime/deviance
Strict social code of conduct
The Victorian Gentleman

Masculine ideal of society
Gallantry but no sexual interest
Personification of Victorian mind frame
Fin de Siècle/Décadence
"End of the century" -> end of an era
Décadence: the degeneration of civilisation
Aesthetic movement in France and Britain
Baudelaire: "banality" of progress vs. decadence
L'art pour l'art
The Dandy
"One who studies above everything to dress elegantly and fashionably"
predecessors: the "fop" in Restoration comedy
Aesthetic: L'art pour l'art -> art for art's sake
enjoys and recreates beauty
Lord Byron/Beau Brummel/Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde as a Dandy and a writer of dandyism
Oscar Wilde:
Famous Irish author and personality of late-Victorian Britain
“grand viveur" , "king of life"
Witty conversationalist
Great love of art
Dandy lifestyle -> live the aesthetic ideal of the fin de siècle and produce corresponding art, sexual indulgence,
Style of writing: Subjectivity of the Décadence
Dandyism reflected in "The Picture of Dorian Gray":
hedonistic lifestyle
Sacrifice of soul for beauty/youth, but failure
Late-Victorian period:
Gentleman -> Representative of the optimist/rigid Victorian society
Dandy -> rebel against the establisment: libertine/pessimist
Conflicting values:
Earnestness vs. Cynicism
Optimism vs. Pessimism
Progress vs. Décadence
Strictness vs. Liberality
Materialism vs. L'art pour l'art

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