Manipulation in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Manipulation in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray "I do not think that one person influences another, nor do I think there is any bad influence in the world," Oscar Wilde uttered when under trial (Hyde 353). Although this statement may be true, one of Wilde's most famous works shows a great deal of the effects of people shaping one another, causing one to wonder about Wilde's sincerity in that statement. The Picture of Dorian Gray shows variations on the existence and purposes of influence, displaying two types of personal influence: obvious manipulations such as that of Lord Henry upon Dorian and that of Dorian over Sybil Vane, and those that are more often overlooked such as the more subtle manipulation of Dorian over…show more content…
Dorian is introduced to Lord Henry Wotton. Lord Henry Wotton seems at the beginning of the novel to be the most corrupting character in the book, being the catalyst of Dorian Gray?s change in character, or realization of true character. Wotton is a cynical character, and is somewhat of a hypocrite, as Hallward rightly says (paraphrasing Charles 2nds epigram), "You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing" (4). For all his talk, Lord Henry remains a married man who chooses a life as a spectator rather than a carouser (Miller 385). From the instant of their acquaintance, Lord Henry causes an instantaneous difference in Dorian. "Lord Henry lives vicariously on the emotions and experiences of other people" (Shewan 376). Lord Henry awakens in Dorian feelings and thoughts Dorian has never had before, and Dorian feels overcome with awe. When asked about his negative influence on people, Lord Henry says," There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral?Because to influence a person is to give him one?s own soul?" (17). Dorian immediately develops an attachment to Lord Henry, one which Henry claims will be everlasting. Jeffrey Meyers explains, "If Hallward is the masochistic creator of Dorian?s aesthetic glorification, Wotton (who manipulates the vanity stimulated by the portrait) is the sadistic catalyst of his moral degeneration"(372). In fact, Ted Spivey claims that

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