The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde

771 Words4 Pages
Is it worth maintaining an ornately aesthetic life? Is it better to seek a moral lifestyle following society’s moral standards? With ideal appearances and superficial beauty, a decorated life can seem easier and more luxurious than a moral life. Leading a moral life is not as appealing to most people; and is filled with hardships and trouble over “doing the right thing”. One quality cannot be held without losing the other, due to their conflicting natures. While the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray brings out the central question “Is it better to pursue Aesthetics or Morality?” it describes the life of Dorian Gray, who constantly sought to maintain his appearance at the cost of his morals, and answers the question by revealing the…show more content…
He wishes to stay as young and lovely as the portrait that Basil Hallward painted of him, and he wishes that the portrait could age instead. Dorian soon adopts Hedonism and resolves to live his life as a pleasure-seeker with no regard for morality, thanks to Lord Henry’s influence. Dorian’s connection with Sibyl Vane tests his commitment to this way of life by nearly leading him to stop living with Lord Henry’s teachings, but his love proves to be as superficial as he is. When he drives Sibyl to suicide after breaking her heart, Dorian notices the first transformation in his portrait, giving evidence that his picture is showing the effects of age and decay while his body remains ever youthful. Dorian goes through a time of inner-catastrophe as he weighs his guilt about Sibyl against the freedom from worry that Lord Henry’s philosophy guaranteed. When Dorian chooses to avoid responsibility by viewing Sibyl’s suicide as an achievement rather than a tragedy, he starts down the steep slope of his own downfall. This pursuit of aestheticism became so extreme, Dorian found no regret towards his wish and his now immoral lifestyle.
As Dorian’s life progresses, his sins grow worse and his picture grows more hideous while he maintains his young appearance. Dorian seems to lack a conscience throughout the novel, and is encouraged by Lord Henry’s idea that “Conscience and cowardice are really the same things” (Wilde 7). Dorian Gray, however, eventually finds the desire to
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