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The Picture Of Dorian Gray Character Analysis

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In Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray a beautiful young man gets to stay young because a portrait receives all the signs of aging and sin. Although the portrait grows truly grotesque with the marks of sin, Dorian gets to continue on his path of immorality. Yet, when he stabs the portrait to free his conscience, he dies because he has killed the essence of who he is. In the novel, Wilde uses the ideals of conscience and beauty to reveal how affixation with one’s outward appearance will lead will to complete destruction of morality, and therefore one’s self. Before the death of Sibyl Vane, Dorian is heavily influenced by Lord Henry and still has a moral conscience left. Preceding the creation of the portrait, Dorian is pure…show more content…
The influence of Henry introduces the idea of vanity. Once introduced, Dorian is “open-eyed and wondering” at the idea of holding onto his youth forever (Wilde 17). This introduction opens Wilde’s exploration of vanity and leads into Dorian begging at the portrait. “Under the influence of Henry Wotton..Dorians throws off all moral restraint and lives a life of passionate self indulgence” (Miller 1). After all, “the sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation” (Wilde 18). Dorian begins his journey into utter self-absorption when he bargains with the portrait. His words carry a desperate tone; “If it were I who was always to be young...For that—for that—I would give everything!” (Wilde 19). A few words from Henry have Dorian pleading for eternal youth. Wilde begins his critique of Victorian society here. Society’s emphasis on beauty and art is contributing to Dorian’s desire to hold onto his beauty. Selling his soul to an inanimate object catalyzes his self-destruction. He gives away who he is to achieve society’s idea of beauty forever. Giving up his soul was the beginning of the end and allows him to treat Sibyl as he does. From Sibyl’s death until Basil’s death, Dorian’s portrait grows uglier and crueler, while Dorian himself descends into a material life. After Dorian has made the desperate plea to stay young forever is fulfilled the vanity begins to drive his identity. His attraction to Sibyl Vane is purely because she embodies art, and when
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