Dorian's Transformation in Oscar Wilde's in the Picture of Dorian Gray Essay

Dorian's Transformation in Oscar Wilde's in the Picture of Dorian Gray Essay

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In society, there has constantly been the question as to whether people can change or not. Author Oscar Wilde proves in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, that one can. The question he poses to his readers is “What kind of transformation is shown by the protagonist Dorian Gray: good or bad?” It is possible to think that Dorian Gray has become a better person, not for others, but for himself since he lives in the pursuit of pleasure and always achieves it. However, as it is demonstrated by the portrait, the damnation of the lives of others can provoke damage to one’s conscience and soul. Dorian’s soul is ruined gradually by his hedonistic adventures, eventually failing to redeem his actions, but not before he leaves a devastating path of destruction and experiences self-inflicted destruction.
In his search for hedonistic pleasure, Dorian Gray ruins many reputations and is the cause of a few deaths. Even Basil points out that Dorian is linked to destroyed lives, realizing that “One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends. Yours [Dorian’s] seem to lose all sense of honor, of goodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. They have gone down into the depths. You led them there” (143). This is why Sibyl kills herself because after being introduced to pleasure, she cannot act anymore and Dorian unreasonably rejects her. Consequently, after hearing of Sibyl’s death, Dorian is grief-stricken, but quickly recovers and becomes an insensitive Lord Henry clone again: “You [Dorian] were the most unspoiled creature in the whole word. Now, I [Basil] don’t know what has come over you. You talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you. It is all Harry’s influence” (104). Instead of truly acce...


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... murder Basil to “kill the past” and to be free. This “...would kill [the] monstrous soul-life, and, without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace” (210). Little did he know that this would be his entire undoing.
Dorian finally seeks to better himself, but it is too little too late after he ruins many companions’ reputations and goes through a period of insanity. It is important to realize that his own cognizance would have been helpful earlier and it easily could have happened earlier when he feels guilty about Sibyl’s death. At the sybaritic extent to which Dorian has journeyed, it is foolish to believe that positive outcome is possible. Awareness of one’s actions is all one has to protect one’s reputation. This does not mean that change cannot possibly be a good thing; it most definitely can be. The key is to be careful about the degree to which one changes.

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