The soul is thought to be an immaterial entity coexisting with our bodies which is credited with the faculties of thought, action, and emotion. It is the part of our body which is believed to live on after the body dies. In Oscar Wilde's, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the main character, Dorian Gray, destroys the innocence of his soul and becomes corrupt. He becomes corrupt by failing to live a life of virtue. The main reason for his transformation can be attributed to a portrait painted of him that captured the true essence of his innocence. This portrait is the personification of his soul.
At the beginning of the book Dorian makes a wish that inevitably changes his life forever. His wish is that, "If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that - for that - I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!" (Wilde, 40) As Dorian's wish of staying young and beautiful forever come true so does the fact that he has given his soul away to the devil.
Another contributing factor to the perversion of Dorian's soul comes from his supposed friend, Lord Henry Wotton. Lord Henry fills Dorian's head with his outrageous philosophies such as, "....youth is the one thing worth having. .... You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it..." (34) and "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous ...
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... that Dorian has become a dissolute and perverse man who cannot understand that vanity and the thrill of "new sensations" are not what run the world.
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Freidman, Jonathan (edited). Oscar Wilde: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1996.
Pearson, Hesketh (edited). Essays By Oscar Wilde. New York: Books For Libraries Press, 1972.
Ransome, Arthur. Oscar Wilde: A Critical Study. London: Mr. Martin Secker, 1913.
Weintraub, Stanley (edited). Literary Criticism of Oscar Wilde. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1968.
Woodcock, George. The Paradox of Oscar Wilde. London-New York: T.V. Boardman and Co., Ltd., 1950.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Denmark: Wordsworth Editions Limited, Reprinted V
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