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Right And Wrong In The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde And A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennesse Williams

2418 words - 10 pages

Morality, defined as the “beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior,”(“Morality”) is the substructure of our integrity and the column of virtuousness. The opposite of this, immorality, is the corruption of one’s being, becoming more wicked in nature. With morals, a person is held to a certain set of standards and demeanor, but if these morals were to become corrupted, a person’s moral boundaries would crumble, leaving the person vulnerable to misguiding influences and allowing for a certain barbarous freedom to uproot the integrity and virtuousness a moral person upholds. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray introduces a captivating and graceful young Englishman named Dorian Gray, who abandons his purity for an odious decadent lifestyle. Likewise, Stanley, one of the main characters in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire portrays himself as a virile oppressor who tolerates no other authority than his own. Two deceitful men emerge from two extremely diverse worlds with the same corrupted and immoral character similar to humanity; however, these characters are very different. One character, Dorian, is characterized by his beauty, while the other character, Stanley, is characterized by his authority. It is through portentous behavior that one can see the true nature of these characters. Both The Picture of Dorian Gray and A Streetcar Named Desire, emphasize the capitulating to unethical behavior for narcissistic reasons and the inability to determine right from wrong.
In Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian Gray’s true nature is revealed through a graceful portrait that a man by the name of Basil Hallward paints. This painting resembles Dorian’s beauty and purity. “When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time. The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation” (Wilde 18). While Basil’s most astonishing painting is being completed, Dorian is introduced to a man by the name of Lord Henry Wotton, a contemptuous philosopher who corrupts the mind of young Dorian Gray. “Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly” (16). Dorian becomes enticed by Lord Henry’s shrewd concept of beauty and time. Through him, Dorian realizes that he will not be able to hold onto his physical beauty forever. When Dorian becomes aware of this, he begins to dread the visceral burden of ageing, hating and even envying Basil’s masterpiece to the point he wishes to trade places with it, even if it costs him his soul. “…If it were only the other way! 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...

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