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Essay On The Picture Of Dorian Gray As A Moral Book

1005 words - 4 pages

The Picture of Dorian Gray as a Moral Book


The Picture of Dorian Gray was a remarkably well-written book due to the reaction of its themes by society.  In the preface of the novel, Wilde introduces the opinion that "...there is no moral or immoral book.  Books are well written or badly written.  That is all."  Numerous views can be taken upon this fastidious comment.  Many would agree that Wilde is justifiably correct because the preface was written with the intention that his readers understand the deeper meaning of the themes than worrying about whether it is considered morally acceptable; or perhaps, the view that it could be considered moral or immoral by the impact it has on the readers' lives.  Even though there are several positions held on what The Picture of Dorian Gray's most important meaning is about, the most prominent is the novel as a moral book.  Lord Henry Wotton immediately begins to corrupt Dorian's mind after they first meet by forcing his immoral thoughts of "yielding to temptation" which allows Lord Henry to hold his attention.  After listening for quite a while to Lord Henry's views, Dorian begins to change his own to match them, and therefore begins to live a life of immorality.  The yellow book is a device that Lord Henry uses to further corrupt and drive Dorian deeper into the pits of sin.  Through Lord Henry's influence, the changes in Dorian Gray, and the impact of the yellow book, Oscar Wilde efficiently reveals The Picture of Dorian Gray as a moral book.


            Lord Wotton sees Dorian as "wonderfully handsome...all of youth's passionate purity," and cannot resist the triumph of debauching this radiant young man.  Lord Henry begins his defiling by imposing random iniquitous beliefs of his on the unsuspecting Dorian.  He tells him "Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul," which implies for Dorian to give into his deepest wants and desires no matter how dirty or sinful they are.  He continues to spin Dorian into his web of sin by telling him that "you know less than you want to know," which makes him curious as to what other pleasures he could find in the world.  When Dorian falls in love with Sybil Vane, he tries to write her off as some poor, useless nobody who could never please Dorian's deepest desires.  He does this partly because he is jealous of his love for her, since it is made obvious that Lord Henry finds Dorian a strikingly handsome man, and partly for pleasure, to get a high off of ruining one of Dorian's attempts at redemption.  Even when Dorian goes as far as killing Basil, Lord Wotton tells him that crime is "simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations."  It is not until Lord Henry makes this comment about how murder is not a terrible thing that Dorian begins to realize the...

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