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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He admits to Lord Henry that he goes nightly to her plays but does not truly love Sibyl, he loves the feeling of pleasure he gets from his obsession. He idolized her and calls her sacred but does not value her as a person. When asked by Harry, “When is she Sibyl Vane?” Dorian replies, “Never” (Wilde,54). This is the beginnings of Dorian’s ability to place his own pleasure above others and Dorian has immediately lost himself in this pleasure. “What there was in it of purely sensuous instinct of boyhood had been transformed by the workings of the imagination, changed into something that seemed to the lad himself dangerous. It was the passions about whose origin we deceived ourselves that tyrannized most strongly over us” (Wilde,58). The danger of Dorian’s blind obsession is shown with Sibyl’s suicide. His obsession led to the death of one person as well as the first signs of his own worsening soul. After this experience pleasure is no longer a form of love for Dorian, but rather a detachment from reality. While talking with Basil over breakfast Dorian shows he does not place the same value in emotions as he had done before. “A man who is the master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them” (Wilde,105). In contrast to the emotional obsession with Sibyl, Dorian next becomes obsessed with his portrait and a book. Both are means to
Shortly after meeting Dorian for the first time, Lord Henry calmly declares, “to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul” (20). In these few words, Lord Henry foreshadows the
Wilde also was famous for his leading of the aesthetic movement and his imprisonment for propagating homosexuality. The Picture of Dorian Gray tells a story about a degradation of a young man Dorian Gray. At the beginning, an artist Basil Hallward paints a portrait of the kind and innocent Dorian Gray and, after seeing the artwork, Lord Henry Wotton - a vain and snobbish class man - requests to meet him. Influenced by eccentric Henry Wotton’s philosophy, Dorian begins to become vain and cruel but while his external appearance remains unchanged, his appearance on the painting alters every time he commits a sin. The novel explores many issues, one of them is aestheticism - exaltation of art and beauty, leading to the eternal question - can a beautiful person be moral and a moral person be beautiful, which always have and will stir society’s curiosity. Oscar Wilde once said that "All art is quite useless" and in The Picture of Dorian Gray, he tends to juxtapose various expressions of art with the routine of Dorian Gray and a shallow life in the nineteenth century. As a tool to reveal the concept of a life at the end of the 19th century Wilde uses art of pretty - but meaningless - things used to please one’s vanity and create a mundane environment. This raises the question: what did Oscar Wilde want to imply by and how does he use art to develop the theme of morality in The Picture of Dorian Gray? It was impossible to avoid art in any of its expressions (parties, theatre, clothes, etc.) in even the most regular lives in the 19th century and of course it influenced the way of thinking, created the social status and the image of oneself, so, after all, art had a huge impact on the individuals of the 19th century. And, as often beauty does, art encourages greed and vanity, which Oscar Wilde demonstrates through the usage of art in the novel.
Dorian Gray shows his moral ambiguity by breaking up with Sibyl Vane over her terrible performance. After Sibyl’s performs badly, Dorian becomes increasingly furious with Sibyl saying to her, “You have killed my love” (63) and "You simply produce no effect” (63). It was Dorian’s cold hearted behavior that causes Sibyl to take her own life, cementing Dorian’s horrible actions forever. It is the first time Dorian acts on his own impulses without Lord Henry’s direct influence, evidence of a change in Dorian’s personal values. Conversely, as Dorian began to think about his actions, he realizes “how unjust, how cruel, he had been to Sibyl Vane.” (70) and that “it was not too late to make reparation for that” (70). Dorian’s moral ambiguity is prevalent in the guilt he feels for abusing Sibyl’s feelings. He realizes briefly what he did was dreadful, proving he still has a slight glimmer of good intentions left in him . Morally, Dorian switches his stance on his feelings for Sibyl, revealing his intentions to be good, though his actions are twisted.
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
The Picture of Dorian Gray, a novel laced with sin, treachery, and raging battles of inner conflict, is Oscar Wilde’s sole novel. Considered immoral and scandalous upon publication, the book centers around a young man named Dorian Gray, who does not age or reflect the darkness of his heart outwardly, and instead a portrait of him bears the damage his destructive life wreaks on his soul. However, the meaning of the story extends past the simple fact that Dorian lives a life of immorality—he walks the path that takes him there with his two friends, Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotten. The two attempt to guide and influence Dorian throughout the novel in their own ways, and are a vital piece of Dorian’s tale. Basil and Henry act as character foils as well as a symbolic angel and devil for Dorian Gray’s character, and also contribute themes of choosing one’s own fate.
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.
In The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Lord Henry’s influence on Dorian changes his character that was presented in the beginning of the book. Dorian was like a blank canvas that had no personality due to him not having a proper childhood. Due to this, he didn’t have any morals to follow. Lord Henry saw this opportunity and he awakened from him a man who turned into a immoral aestheticist who looks at things just as they are instead of what they are like personally. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry’s influence was significant to Dorian and to the work as a whole because of the impact it had on Dorian, and the impact it had on people close to Dorian.
Oscar Wilde’s The picture of Dorian Grey’s novel is about a young man named Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Basil is impressed by Dorian's beauty and believes his beauty should not be wasted and it is responsible for a new mode in his art. Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil's, and becomes enslaved by Lord Henry's world view. He shows him a new hedonism, and suggests the only things worth following in life are beauty and fulfillment of the senses. When he realizes that one day his beauty will fade, Dorian feels a desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait that Basil has painted would age instead of him. Dorian's wish
Later on in the novel, there is a noticeable shift in Dorian’s attitude that happens quickly and very harshly. Within this shift, he begins to lean towards one of the two forces pulling on him rather than being caught up somewhere in between them. When Dorian first learns of Sibyl Vane’s death, he is overcome with grief and is completely distraught: “Dead! Sibyl dead! It is not true! It is a horrible lie! How dare you say it?” (Wilde 71). However, after a day spent with Lord Henry, when Basil comes to talk to Dorian about the young actress's death Dorian tells him that it is old news and what's done is done (Wilde 79). This certainly proves that the evil residing in Lord Henry is absorbing Dorian, and that his “self-absorbed not caring about anything” attitude is rubbing off on him as well. This is eerily similar to how Lord Henry reacts when he hears later on in the story that his once close friend Basil has gone missing and could possibly be dead. He says, between yawns, that his friend was much too boring to be murdered, and even if he were his art was getting worse anyway so it wouldn’t be much of a loss ( Wilde 156-157).
The first sign of Dorian’s new development is when he first lays eyes on the portrait after hearing Lord Henry’s panegyric of youth. As Dorian gazes upon himself on the portrait, he comes to a shocking realisation. Wilde writes it as, “The sense of his own beauty came upon him like a revelation… Basil Hallward’s compliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggerations of friendship… They had not influenced his nature. Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his strange panegyric on youth, his terrible warning of its brevity. That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him… He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth. As he thought of it, a sharp pang of pain struck through him like a knife, and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver” (Wilde 18-19). His beauty would not last forever, and he would become old and withered just like everyone else will. Dorian, who once didn’t care about his looks, had now become obsessed with the ideals and ideas fed to him from Henry. He makes his wish for the portrait to take on the burden of time and sin, instead of him. He says, “I know, now, that when one loses one’s good
He is infatuated with Dorian's beauty in the beginning. He appreciated Dorian's beauty but did not wish to possess it for himself. Basil exclaims, “When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale... I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself.” His love for Dorian changed the way he perceived art. Basil eventually paints a portrait of Dorian to capture his beauty forever. Basil’s portrait marks a new phase in his career. Once he has painted Dorian, he fears that he has put too much of himself into the work. Basil reluctantly introduces Dorian to Lord Henry, who he fears will have a damaging influence on Dorian. He admits, “Yes, that is his name. I didn't intend to tell it to you.” Basil is later envious of the relationship between Lord Henry and Dorian. Lord Henry upsets Dorian with a speech about the transient nature of beauty and youth. Basil, wishing to protect and defect him, voices his objection to Lord Henry’s influence over Dorian. Dorian felt Basil had come to realize his true personality and that he would bring it to someones attention. Basil is murdered by Dorian. The murder of Basil marks the beginning of Dorian's end. He cannot overcome the realization that he killed his friend.
In Oscar Wilde’s Popular nineteenth century novel, the Picture of Dorian Gray demonstrates the importance of the aesthetic movement in Victorian England. This suggests youth and physical attractiveness is emphasized and are valuable additions to society. Therefore, what matters to Dorian, is not the internal goodness an individual possesses but the appearance they present. Consequently, Dorian is able to forget the violent acts he commits as long as he appears beautiful on the outside. Since external beauty is valued, Wilde argues that people tend to lose their individualism and conform to society’s expectations. With this in mind, Dorian gray grows more corrupt, self-centered as he focuses more on the pleasure for himself as he becomes more vulnerable to his own misgivings. He loses his individualism, because he is conforming to society’s form of asethics. I agree with Wilde’s arguement about Dorian Gray, that individuals lose their sense of idenity when conforming to society’s influence, such as in today’s beauty standards portrayed on social media, racism described through facism, and LGBTQ rights violated by intolerant individuals. (too wordy)
Sibyl Vane was a woman who was from the outer circle of high british society, she was poor and lived her life honestly and humbly with her family, and for that she would play with her life. Dorian Gray saw the potential of Sibyl Vane as a wife through her amazing acting skills; her ability to become someone else day in and day out allured her to him, even more than her good looks did. Subconsciously Dorian Gray fell in love with Sibyl Vane’s prospects of being a good and proper tool for gaining more recognition, influence and power. Her acting skills, the ability to deceive and to trick, to move other people’s emotions while keeping her own in control, to play one set of rules and then another set if need be, these traits would propel anyone
Dorian begins exploring new experiences and avenues of entertainment. In doing so he discovers Sibyl Vane who is the lead actress in a disreputable theater. Dorian is captivated by both her physical beauty and the beauty present in her acting. He appears night after night to watch her performances. He finally approaches her backstage after a play, and after a very short and superficial acquaintance, decides to marry her. This decision shows that Dorian has truly decided to embrace new hedonism, as do his subsequent decisions in regards to her. He informs Lord Henry and Basil of his engagement and takes them to the theater to see her perform, wanting his friends to be as captivated by her as he has been. He is appalled and embarrassed when Sibyl’s