Oscar Wilde’s Aestheticism Essay
Oscar Wilde’s Aestheticism
Though Oscar Wilde is the incarnation of the aestheticism schools, we can’t afford to ignore the other artists of the aesthetes. It is imperative that we should give a general introduction to aestheticism in the following paragraphs. Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy that studies the principles of beauty especially in art. Aestheticism is the collection of all the fruits of aesthetics. “The word ‘aesthetic’ was first found in Aesthetica, appearing as a Latin word, which is the name of two books written by Alexander Baumgarten, 1714—1762.
”(Williams, 2005: 31) Baumgarten believes beauty can be defined as aesthetic, but when it is related to art, the most important part of Baumgarten’s translation of beauty is that beauty is not abstract but can be felt by people through their senses. This translation is the same as the Greek word “aisthesis”, the original meaning of which is the power of uniting mentally the impressions conveyed by the five physical senses.
And in the middle of the 19th century, aesthetic is understood as “the beautiful”, which is generally related to art. In 1880, the word “aesthete” was used in a wide range, but contained a derogatory sense. Both the principle and the practice of the aesthetic movement led by Walter Pater were criticized at that time. But the British decadent writers were deeply influenced by Walter Pater. The artists and writers of the aesthetic movement held the view that sensuous pleasure should be provided by arts, not moral or sentimental messages.
As a consequence, they did not accept John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold’s utilitarian conception of art as something moral or useful. Instead, they believed that art did not have any didactic purpose; it needed only be beautiful. The aesthetes developed the cult of beauty, which they considered the basic factor in art. In Britain, Oscar Wilde is famous as one of the best representatives of the aesthetes. He believes that art represents nothing but itself, and that art has its own life just as thoughts do.