Innocence may be easily corrupted by a malignant outside influence. The novel The Picture of Dorian Gray shows that corruption and bad influence may be easy to pursue. Author Oscar Wilde attempts to highlight that corruption may not come in the form of materials, but also in the forms of friends, society, etc. Dorian’s youth is easily corrupted by the influence of not only Lord Henry but also by the society and the substances which he chooses to use and abuse now and then. The corruption takes a toll on Dorian’s behavior significantly, and the readers notice that it ultimately leads to his demise. In this novel, we see the corruption of Dorian’s unscathed innocence and his beauty by various outside sources.
Dorian first meets Basil, who values Dorian’s beauty so much that he is Basil’s muse for art, his way of living. Basil wants to cherish Dorian forever, and wants to keep him all for himself. Additionally, at first, he cherishes Dorian’s beauty more than he does his personality. As an artist, Basil is completely enamored by Dorian’s beauty, and he says, “what the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me” (Wilde 12). Dorian’s beauty is greatly appreciated by Basil, and he is the one who makes Dorian realize his beauty and charms.
Henry, being a part of the Victorian Society, values beauty too much. To him, beauty acts a sensory pleasure. Henry’s strong views and preference towards beauty greatly influence Dorian throughout the novel. About his friendships and enmities, Henry mentions that he “chooses [his] friends for their good looks, acquaintances for their good characters, and enemies for their good intellects” (Wilde 10). He selects his friends for his good looks in order to have a good impression in the society; acquaintances’ good characters occasionally helps him rid the boredom, and the good intellects of his enemies serve as a challenge to him to keep his brain stimulated. Henry, however, does not prefer beauty only in his good friends, he praises beauty so highly that he says, “Beauty is a form of Genius-- is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation... To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders... When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you” (Wilde 28). Henry praises beauty and strongly believes that there is no other form that is higher than beauty. These views, and Henry’s often stimulating chats, influence Dorian greatly as the story progresses.
Henry’s influence also ultimately leads to Dorian’s death. Henry constantly pushed him and often thought of Dorian as an object to experiment on, “He knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing. He felt intensely interested... He had merely shot an arrow into the air. Had it hit the mark? (Wilde 25).” Henry considered Dorian as his psychological experiment, and he intensely...