“There were passions in him that would find their terrible outlet, dreams that would make the shadow of the real evil” (Wilde,115). The author reveals pleasure as the driving force of many characters within Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, but this search for pleasure becomes fatal once taken into the hands of Dorian Gray. Throughout the novel Dorian Gray changes his opinion on pleasure based on what he requires in order to escape reality. With each death and misdeed he is responsible for; Dorian must search harder for a more drastic form of release. His path declines from his innocent beginnings with Sybil Vane, to the pleasure he finds in corrupt relations, and finally his need to escape the reality of killing a former friend. Dorian’s view on pleasure changes as his soul deteriorates and often what brings him pleasure at first is later destroyed and he must find another form of enjoyment. He uses obsession and forced ignorance to try and avoid the reality of his sins but eventually his only way to escape his own damnation is death. Dorian Gray’s quest for pleasure through sensations and detachment intensifies as the novel progresses and is the cause of death and destruction of many as Dorian seeks to find escape from himself and his deeds.
Sibyl Vane was the first causality in Dorian’s search for pleasure and while the situation started innocently enough, it turned deadly the moment Dorian’s obsession failed to provide the pleasure Dorian required. While in Lord Henry’s library Dorian reveals that he is in love with Sibyl Vane after only three weeks of encountering her. “You filled me with a wild desire to know everything about life…I had a passion for sensations” (Wilde,48). Dorian has just been awakened to his k...
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... in pleasure that leads to the death of five people and his indulgence in pleasure that leads to the loss of his sanity and soul. Dorian tries so hard to ignore the guilt within him that he fails to see the repeating process he is living. He seeks pleasure, destroys or alienates what gives him pleasure, becomes guilt ridden and lesser due to his own exploits, and then must find another form of release to escape his sins. Pleasure plays a vital role in this novel and has more power over Dorian than his own beauty because pleasure was the basis for each of Dorian’s sins. It is not Lord Henry’s influence or a narcissistic personality that kills Dorian, but the quest for pleasure, no matter the consequence, that truly causes the degradation of Dorian’s soul.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York, New York : Penguin Group, 1985. Print.
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