Main characteristics of the late Victorian Period
The Late Victorian Period is set from 1870 to 1901, the year of Queen Victoria’s death. This period is characterized by a loss of values and a general sense of crisis and disillusion. The scientific discoveries shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851 stopped although they had already generate a deep instability in people’s minds. What is more, the Aesthetic movement becomes widespread because it reflects the frustration and uncertainty of the artist. This movement is synthesized in the famous motto “Art for Art’s sake”. One of the major exponents of this period is Oscar Wilde.
The “Art for Art’s sake” motto
It is a moral and aesthetic imperative. This movement believed that only “Art as the cult of Beauty” could prevent the murder of the soul. But Beauty has nothing to do with morality; there is no message to convey, the writer doesn’t want to communicate anything. Art is pretty useless, it goes against Utilitarianism.
The dandy is a person who lives on Beauty and makes his life a work of art. He is a bourgeois artist who, in spite of his uneasiness, remains a member of his class. He is often rejected by people who judge him weird because of his ambiguity. The Wildean dandy is an aristocrat whose elegance is a symbol of the superiority of the spirit. Since life was meant for pleasure, and pleasure was an indulgence in beauty, beautiful clothes and talks, delicious food and handsome boys became the main interests of Oscar Wilde who is a typical example of a dandy.