Transformation in Literature
Greek Philosopher Heraclitus once said “There is nothing permanent except change”. In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, the theme of transformation is constant throughout the novel; however it is not portrayed as something that is permanent. Through the protagonist’s transformation, Oscar Wilde 's novel is suggesting that the hedonistic lifestyle, a lifestyle where gaining pleasure is the main goal of a person’s life, may seem like it is an exciting and wonderful way to live, however a person will slowly be corrupted if they are not careful in the way they carry out their lifestyle. Their life must be taken into their own hands and they must choose the people to be around and what they will do with …show more content…
Furthermore, Dorian Gray 's transformation wasn 't the only transformation in the novel; Painter Basil Hallward and actress Sybil Vane transform in different ways, while still conveying Oscar Wilde 's idea that in order to stay pure and keep one’s life in control one must choose carefully where and with whom one spends their time.
In the beginning of the novel Dorian Gray 's transformation is slow and he is not aware of what is happening to him. Only when his transformation is presented in front of his face does he even consider the fact that he is changing. After Dorian comes back from the theater, where he rudely “breaks up” with an actress he had been in love with, he looks at a portrait of himself that his good friend Basil Hallward had painted for him a few years back. He sees a change in what had been a flawless face; he thinks he sees what might be cruelty. He questions what he sees and asks "Had [I] been cruel?” (Wilde 81) He then realizes that he had been cruel to his “girlfriend,” the actress Sybil Vane. He finally sees that he is changing and he needs to stop being friends with the Hedonist, Lord Henry, the man who is corrupting him.
While Dorian Gray needs to have the proof in front of his face to be able to understand that he is slowly changing, it is clear to other characters that the innocent young man that was presented at the very beginning of the novel is no longer the same. Basil Hallward realizes Dorian’s change before anyone else.
Most people are taught from a young age what is right, and what is wrong. These teachings set up the basis for later discovering one’s personal values. In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, these same principles are applied and challenged by Wilde. Not only does he question morality and human nature, but also the ideas of the Aesthetic movement- which influenced the ideals and behavior of Dorian Gray. Through Dorian’s morally ambiguous character, Wilde asserts that one is not purely good or evil, but a mixture of the two; Wilde establishes this theme when Dorian breaks up with Sibyl Vane, murders Basil Hallward, and stabs his decaying portrait.
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.
Finally, Wilde says that he would like to be Dorian but in another time. Dorian starts out as a handsome, wealthy gentleman that's innocent. He is quickly seduced by Lord Henry's words and starts to live life for all its pleasures. These acts are obviously not accepted by the public and with his picture taking all the flaws, his image is never damaged. In my opinion, I believe that when Wilde said he wants to be Dorian, it's because he wishes that he could "get rid of a temptation" by yielding to it,
In the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian is viewed highly by Basil and is claimed to be his sole inspiration. By this little description we read of Dorian, the reader can already see how Dorian at the beginning of the book has a strong presence. However Basil describes Dorian as having a “simple and beautiful nature”(pg-12) and tells Lord Henry, “Don’t spoil him. Don’t try to influence him. Your influence would be bad.” (pg-12). Lord Henry is the first person to start to influence and change Dorian into being deceitful. The second factor that changes Dorian is the painting. In chapter two, Basil finishes the Painting and presents it to Dorian. Instead of being filled with joy, Dorian realizes that he will grow old and the Painting will stay young. Later in the story the Portrait changes to show a sneer around Dorians mouth. The reason for this is because Dorian broke Sybil’s heart. After learning about Sybil’s suicide, Dorian accepts that the Painting will show ageing while he appears to have not aged. This forces Dorian to lock away his painting and this also shows Dorian being deceitful with his looks.
Basil begins to notice this corruption in Dorian's face right after Dorian meets Henry. When Basil is painting Dorian, he notices a change. Basil "...deep in his work, and conscious only that a look had come into the lad's face that he had never seen there before" (Wilde 13). Dorian is loosing his innocence and purity due to Henry's influence and Basil can detect
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
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
He is even told by Lord Henry he is far too charming to go into philantropy. This remark may be the beginning of the flattery that opened Dorian's mind up to his corruption. Dorian is being moved by Harry's speech about cherishing youth and enjoying it. His mind was being challenged by the thought of his own passions until the point when he proclaimed "stop! You bewilder me. I do not know what to say. There is some answer to you, but I cannot find it. Do not speak. Let me think. Or rather let me try not to think". Dorian allows himself to be corrupted. He begins to fear aging and begins to think that everything will be loss with the loss of his youth and beauty. Dorian goes from no worries to this thought as Harry speaks. He was convinced that this "new Hedonism" was the way. This shows the weakness of his mind in his youth it is also the begginning of his fate. With this flaw of character, Dorian seemed to write his fate unknowingly. When Basil Hallward, the painter, rewarded Dorian with the portrait he replied "If I were to be the one always young, and the picture grow old! For that-for that-Iwould give everything!…Iwould give my soul for that!". This was just a plea at the depth of his sorrow, a remark made totally through whim.
One conflict shown in Dorian Grey is the conflict of identity portrayed in the novel by Oscar Wilde. The character Basil describes Lord Henry to be a very influential character to another’s identity, for example, ‘Don’t spoil him. Don’t try influence him. Your influence would be bad.’ Spoiling Dorian shows that he is pure, and should not be tainted by Lord Henry’s character; this shows that Lord Henry is impure in thought and in his actions and this impacts his approach towards others. As Basil says this, it shows that he understands the flaws in Lord Henry’s character, but also his power in manipulation, especially towards someone like
Throughout the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde tells a tale about a young man named Dorian whose entire life changes after he meets Basil Hallward, who paints a portrait of Gray that ultimately leads to Gray’s demise. At the same time, Dorian also meets Lord Henry, who eventually plays a bad influence over Dorian. The portrait shows the man Dorian has become
However, in Greek days an intimate relationship between such a pairing was not uncommon. This idea is furthered by the way Basil speaks. On many occasions, he speaks to Dorian. On one such occasion, he says “It is quite true, I have worshipped you with far more romance of feelings than a man should ever give to a friend, somehow I have never loved a woman… From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me” (Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray). The subtext in Dorian Gray played a part in Wilde's lasting significance. The story is one that can be read and reread a million times. Some people identify with the characters; others are fascinated with the grim transformation that Dorian Takes throughout the story. No matter one's initial cause for reading the story one fact that is undeniably true is The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story that can be analysed in a million different ways to get a million different answers. This ability to be interpreted a million different ways from Sunday in the beautiful thing that helped Wilde create an influence after his passing on November 30, 1900. It helped turn him into the legend he
In chapter 20 of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Dorian reflects on his past crimes and wonders whether he will ever change and retrieve his innocence again. Throughout the final chapter of the novel, the elements of Gothic novel that Wilde explores conveys the idea of the pursuit of individualism. Dorian’s wild, racing emotions clearly show how much he is driven by his readiness to fulfill his desires under any circumstance. Through this, the use of specific words and punctuation markings highlight Dorian’s personal yearning of removing himself from his past.
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)