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Picure Of Dorian Grey Essay, Research Paper
In London, England, the well-known artist Basil Hallward becomes obsessed with the beauty of a wealthy young gentleman, Dorian Gray. He paints Dorian’s portrait, and introduces him to Lord Henry Wotton, a clever nobleman who enjoys embracing the sensibilities of his friends by advocating selfishness, praising youth and beauty, and celebrating the pursuit of pleasure. Dorian, captivated with Lord Henry’s ideas, looks at his beautiful portrait and wishes impulsively that its image would grow old, while he remains ever young.
Lord Henry’s influence over Dorian grows immensely, meanwhile, Dorian has fallen in love with Sibyl Vane, a young actress who performs in a theater in London’s slums. He adores her acting; she, in turn, refers to him as “Prince Charming,” despite the fears of her brother, that he will break her heart. Caught up in her love for Dorian, Sibyl loses her ability to act, and his love for her vanishes. He ignores her cruelly, and that night, he looks at his portrait and notices that a faint glare has appeared on the painted face. Frightened, he resolves to make amends with Sibyl the next day but he receives the news that she has killed herself. Under Lord Henry’s influence, Dorian decides to put the matter behind him. Meanwhile, he hides the painting in a spare room, which he keeps locked.
Lord Henry gives Dorian a book, detailing the wicked tricks of a nineteenth century Frenchman, that becomes Dorian’s bible as he sinks ever deeper into a life of sin and corruption. Eighteen years pass, and the painting grows ever more wizened and hideous, while Dorian himself remains young and handsome. Finally, he commits his greatest crime: he murders Basil Hallward, and blackmails one of his friends into helping him dispose of the body.
The night after the murder, Dorian makes his way to an opium den, where he encounters James Vane, Sibyl’s brother, who tries to avenge his sister’s death by killing him. Dorian escapes, and goes to his country estate to host a party, but he sees James Vane’s face at a window, and is wracked by fear and guilt. However, a hunting party accidentally shoots and kills Vane. Dorian, feeling safe again, resolves to amend his life, but cannot gather the courage to confess his crimes, and the painting reveals his supposed contrition for what it is, hypocrisy. In a fury, Dorian tries to stab the painting. There is a crash, and his servants enter to find the portrait, unharmed, showing Dorian Gray as a beautiful young man. And on the floor is the body of their master an old man, horribly wrinkled and disfigured, with a knife plunged into his heart.
“The Picture of Dorian Gray”, was published in 1891, before Wilde reached the height of his fame. The novel was criticized as scandalous and immoral, but largely by critics who had not read it carefully. But the fact of the matter is that “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a strongly moral tale, as it explores the debilitating effects of sin on the title character. Lord Henry Wotton, the character whose charm and wit, is in fact a heartless figure, and the villain of the story. It could be explain as a philosophical exploration of the relationship between art and morality, The Picture of Dorian Gray has retained its popularity up to the present day.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a relatively short novel, but one rich in themes and ideas. On the surface, it seems to be a classic novel, with its handsome, mysterious protagonist, Dorian Gray, who comes from a family with a tragic past and leads a sinister double life. The atmosphere is dark and gloomy, with scenes in opium dens and a brutal murder that takes place midway through the story. And of course, there is the requisite supernatural element, embodied by the portrait that grows old and evil-looking even as its owner retains his charmed, gorgeous youth.
Dorian Gray makes a pact with the devil except that the devil in this case is a human being, the brilliant and dangerous Lord Henry Wotton. The pact grants Dorian eternal youth, but leads him into a degradation from which he cannot remove himself. His soul, meanwhile, is not placed in the devil’s hands; rather, it is contained within the painting of himself as a young man, enabling him to watch as his image declines into foulness, even as the world sees only his continuing youth and beauty. Dorian kills the conscience within himself, but his face in paint and canvas fulfills the same role, hounding him with the knowledge of his crimes until finally, unable to bear it any longer, he tries to destroy the painting. But the painting, not his outward form, is Dorian’s true self, and his attempt to destroy it becomes an act of suicide.
Lord Henry is the book’s most vivid character, and his powerful intellect champions the idea that art must be amoral but his views, by the end of the book, come to seem naive when set next to the terrible transformation that takes place in Dorian’s soul. The “yellow book” that Lord Henry bestows on Dorian, whose contents are never revealed, is clearly an “immoral” work of art, since it corrupts the young man. Meanwhile, when Dorian believes himself to be in love with Sibyl Vane, in fact he only loves her artistic ability as an actress, and while Lord Henry praises him for this, the novel does not, contrasting his false, artistic love, with her true, self-giving adoration. And appearing over all these events is the painting itself the perfect example of “morality” in art, for it provides a portrait not of the natural world but of its owner’s own soul.