The Reader's Sympathy for Dorian from Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Reader's Sympathy for Dorian from Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The French born author, Anais Nin once wrote, “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative” ("Think Exist Quotations"). Anais is expounding upon the inconsistency all people have in aspects of their personalities. Some days a person may be hailed as a saint for their actions, while other days they seem absolutely evil. In most literature, characters are defined as good or evil based on their revealed thoughts and actions. On occasion an anomaly may be found, where a character is more ambiguous. Dorian Gray’s Actions throughout The Picture of Dorian Gray paralyzes the readers’ ability to condemn Dorian as purely good or purely evil, causing them to be more sympathetic than usual.
In the beginning of the book, Dorian seems to be an innocent, charming, beautiful young man, and even referred to as “a wonderful creation” (ch 2). Dorian is described as this amazing person, with looks comparable to a God, charm that could swoon any woman, and a mesmerizing persona about him with the ability to draw anyone near, yet he seems to be so imperceptive to himself. His attitude of simplicity causes readers to be fond of him, passing their first judgments that he could not possibly be evil. As the story moves along readers see the first inkling that Dorian may not be so perfect. Dorian comments on “how sad it is…[that he] shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But the picture will remain always young” (ch 2). This statement lets readers inside Dorian’s thoughts, showing how shallow and frivolous Dorian views life to be. He places so much value and esteem on looks alone, forgetting that being painted should be an honor, or at the very least...


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...d from condemning him as purely good or purely evil. His personality seems to be inconsistent. Sometimes his actions are good, allowing readers to identify him and a good person. However, other times his actions are purely evil, allowing readers to write him off as an evil, vain and ultimately horrible person. These inconsistencies in both his personality and actions stop readers from making any definitive decision about Dorian. Anais Nin, identifies with these personal inconsistencies and provides a thought that maybe everyone possesses the power to act ambiguously, causing others to judge us based on every action we make. Some could say that the world would be a better place if people were only judged on a day-to-day basis, or even an action-to-action basis, yet others would argue that this system would allow for too many evils to go without the proper reprimand.

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