Oscar Wilde Writing Styles in The Picture of Dorian Gray

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An epigram is a short, witty statement in prose or verse. Wilde is famous for his epigrams, and the novel furnishes many examples, almost all of them uttered by Lord Henry Wotton. "A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies," he tells his friend Basil. The humorous effect is gained by a reversal of the expected meaning, since it would be natural to expect to hear "friends" instead of "enemies." The reversal creates a comic surprise. Lord Henry uses the same reversal of expectations when he says, "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it." This can also be described as a paradox, which is a statement that appears to be contradictory or absurd but on examination may prove to be true. Wilde's preface to the novel also contains many epigrams, many of which show his eagerness to...

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This section contains 376 words
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The Picture of Dorian Gray from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.