The Decay of Lying | Study Guide

Oscar Wilde

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The Decay of Lying | Key Figure Analysis



Vivian is the leading figure. He describes his new philosophy of aesthetics by exploring the notion of "lying in art" and refers to the idea that all true art consists of imaginatively weaved fiction. He also describes the shortcomings of the modern novel of the time by critiquing several contemporaneous authors. Vivian further explains his ideas about the relationship between art and nature and between art and life. His assertions derive from an essay he is writing titled "The Decay of Lying: A Protest." The ideas Vivian raises in the essay allow him to instigate a discussion on what comprises true art. Vivian is forthright in his judgments and critiques, and he is assertive in presenting his opinions.


Cyril engages in conversation with Vivian throughout. He listens as Vivian reads from his essay and discusses the essay's ideas with Vivian. Cyril is curious about Vivian's assertions and often prompts him for more explanation. He is also at times doubtful of Vivian's ideas and challenges him to provide a convincing case for his arguments.

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