In analyzing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, concepts such as influence and the origin of evil in Dorian Gray play an exceptionally valuable role in understanding the motives of the characters. Although some critics argue characters such as Lord Kelso significantly influence Dorian’s corruption, Lord Henry Wotton’s toxic personality undeniably impacts Dorian the most. Throughout the course of the novel, Lord Henry remains the ultimate source of evil and uses deception and persuasion to poison Dorian from a naïve boy to a destructive monster.
Shortly after meeting Dorian for the first time, Lord Henry calmly declares, “to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul” (20). In these few words, Lord Henry foreshadows the entirety of his relationship with Dorian throughout the novel. By sharing his unique thoughts about the scientific view of influence, Lord Henry captures Dorian’s curiosity and attention, opening the door to the beginning of Dorian’s evolution
Lord Henry continues to bruise Dorian’s perfection on page 21 when he lectures Dorian about the key to a rewarding life through means of the senses. In response to these dangerous regarding influence, sensation, temptation, and beauty, Dorian commands Lord Henry to stop speaking as he absorbs the new light shed upon him:
For nearly ten minutes he stood there, motionless, with parted lips, and eyes strangely bright. He was dimly conscious that entirely fresh influences were at work within him. . . The few words that Basil’s friend had said to him – words spoken by chance, no doubt, and with willful paradox in them – had touched some secret chord that had never been touched before, but that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to curious pulses. (21)
Dorian’s paralyzed state of shock affirms Lord Henry has an entirely original and captivating influence over both Dorian’s body and mind. The colorful diction and syntax in this paragraph allow the reader to witness Lord Henry’s sturdy grip on Dorian’s future as he begins to transform from virtually flawless to rotten. Word choices and phrases such as motionless, parted lips, strangely bright, fresh influences, secret chord, vibrating, throbbing, and curious illustrate Dorian’s puzzling mood of total absorption as he stands stationary and lifeless for ten whole minutes, a remarkably long time to comprehend a stranger’s thoughts. While Dorian initially exhibits a clueless and unenlightened perspective on life, Lord Henry’s dominating opinions strike a chord in Dorian, causing him to flood with waves of understanding about the purpose of life. By comparing Dorian’s brain to a chord, it generates a visual image of Lord Henry plucking a single string that stimulates newborn thoughts to dance around in Dorian’s mind as his angelic eyes open up to corrupting theories about the dark world of pleasure.
Although the fact that Lord Henry generates a completely new influence over Dorian’s mind is as plain as...