Essay about Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

Essay about Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Grey shocked its earlier readers by its hints of abominable sins and was later used as evidence against him at the Old Bailey trial in 1895. The novel follows a young man who’s exquisite beauty captures the attention of an extremely talented yet somewhat conventionally minded artist, Basil Hallward, believing his boyish charm to be responsible for a breakthrough in his career. Dorian, in the opening chapters of the novel, meets Lord Henry Wotton, a close friend of Basil's, quickly becoming beguiled by the seemingly sophisticated man’s views of the world. The latter suggests that the only worthy pursuits in life are pleasure and beauty, adopting the aspect of a new hedonism. However, becoming aware that his picturesque beauty will some day fade, Dorian wishes to trade his soul for eternal beauty, in which place, the portrait reflects his life of debauchery and ages as he forever keeps his youth. To a great extent, many cast Dorian’s corruption as the result of Lord Henry’s persistent character, his influence over the young boy and ultimately the yellow book which he impulses Dorian to read, spurring on his interest into a life of sin. However, as the novel progresses, we come to consider the possibility that Lord Henry may not act as big a part as the reader ultimately wants him to and most of Dorian’s corruption may lie in himself or society as a whole.
Lord Henry, essentially, is the force that drives the very easily impressed Dorian to his downfall of a corrupt double life. To begin with, he himself possesses a very persistent and influential character that enthrals Dorian to follow in his footsteps, corrupting the boy’s view of himself and changing his perspective on the world completely. In...


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...ll cannot overlook the behaviour of the more mature Lord Henry to impose such heavy impact onto the young wondrous Dorian, it falls onto Dorian himself to bring his own downfall. By the end of the novel, it is clear that it was in fact Dorian’s ignorance of the wise advice of his less exciting yet true friend Basil, vulnerability and childish eagerness to be so modified by Lord Henry but above all society's mark on the once pure natured boy eager to discover the dark secrets of life. The novel illustrates what Wilde originally seekes as his immoral ideal, an ideal he ultimately envisioned in the essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism,” where he puts forward his own theory of the true meaning of Individualism: the perfection of one individual lies on the perfection of society as one big unit, or else we will be subject to corruption by the monsters under our own bed.

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