The Conscience of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Conscience of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray Much of the criticism regarding The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde has dealt with Dorian Gray’s relation to his own portrait (Raby 392). While some may argue that the portrait represents a reflection of Dorian Gray’s character, this is only a superficial analysis of the novel and Dorian’s character. While Dorian Gray’s true character never changes, it is his own perception of his character (his conscience) that is reflected in the changing face of his portrait. In essence Dorian’s picture becomes a mirror through which the "true Dorian" judges his own metamorphasis as the superficial "Lord Henry Dorian" attempts to embrace Lord Henry’s teachings. Dorian’s…show more content…
Also at this initial stage of the novel, Dorian makes his fateful wish for eternal youth, immediately after "recogniz[ing] himself for the first time" at the impetus of Lord Henry (24). This desire to remain youthful does indeed come true for Dorian; his true youthful character remains with him throughout the novel, though he often tries to repress and extinguish it. As a whole, this opening confrontation between Lord Henry and Dorian’s initial character proves several points: one, Dorian does have his own passions and soul before meeting Lord Henry, and two, Lord Henry’s teachings initially echo Dorian’s own feelings, which are what draw him to Lord Henry over the two-dimensional Basil Hallward. Later, ironically, it is Lord Henry’s own teachings which leads to Dorian’s struggle to repress his "true self" and ultimately bring about his downfall. The first major event of the novel is Dorian’s relationship with Sybil Vane, as it marks Dorian’s first practical experience with Lord Henry’s instruction. Although Dorian superficially embraces and attempts to follow the Hedonistic ideals,
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