Masters Thesis

Unleashing the beast: the force of the mask in William Golding’s lord of the flies, Oscar Wilde’s the picture of Dorian Gray, and the historical Venetian carnival

Wearing a mask is an intriguing phenomenon: it hides the wearer by covering the face, but simultaneously uncovers the nature of the inner self by reducing inhibitions, giving the wearer a sense of freedom from cultural restrictions and civilizational restraints. These psychological and anthropological aspects of mask-wearing are explored in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and during the historical Venetian Carnival. While putting on a mask does not necessarily promote aggression, it can unleash the primeval, raw nature of the wearer, uncontrolled by culturally-dependent morals or values. The force of the mask remains hidden until worn, but the extent of its power depends on the wearer.

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