The Reader's Sympathy For Dorian From Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

2110 words - 8 pages

The French born author, Anais Nin once wrote, “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative” ("Think Exist Quotations"). Anais is expounding upon the inconsistency all people have in aspects of their personalities. Some days a person may be hailed as a saint for their actions, while other days they seem absolutely evil. In most literature, characters are defined as good or evil based on their revealed thoughts and actions. On occasion an anomaly may be found, where a character is more ambiguous. Dorian Gray’s Actions throughout The Picture of Dorian Gray paralyzes the readers’ ability to condemn Dorian as purely good or purely evil, causing them to be more sympathetic than usual.
In the beginning of the book, Dorian seems to be an innocent, charming, beautiful young man, and even referred to as “a wonderful creation” (ch 2). Dorian is described as this amazing person, with looks comparable to a God, charm that could swoon any woman, and a mesmerizing persona about him with the ability to draw anyone near, yet he seems to be so imperceptive to himself. His attitude of simplicity causes readers to be fond of him, passing their first judgments that he could not possibly be evil. As the story moves along readers see the first inkling that Dorian may not be so perfect. Dorian comments on “how sad it is…[that he] shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But the picture will remain always young” (ch 2). This statement lets readers inside Dorian’s thoughts, showing how shallow and frivolous Dorian views life to be. He places so much value and esteem on looks alone, forgetting that being painted should be an honor, or at the very least a good way to reminisce about your past on a later date. Readers seem to sympathize with Dorian at this point because, psychologically, they identify with the desire to be young and beautiful forever. They also sympathize with how conflicted Dorian seems to be, trying to care about personal and tangible aspects of his world. At this point, readers still cannot condemn Dorian as necessarily good or evil.
Most people would consider Dorian’s personality to be swaying towards the evil side based on his vanity and extreme concern with himself until Sibyl Vane becomes the most prominent part of his life. Dorian meets Sibyl and instantly loves her. His instant love and compassion, though shallow, could mean that he does care about others on a deeper level. Dorian cares so much as to ask his good friend Lord Henry to “tell [him] how to charm Sibyl Vane to [loving him]. [He] wants[s] to make Romeo jealous” (ch 4). His desire to challenge the charm of one of the most infamous romantics shows that he is deeply devoted to, and seriously concerned with winning the affection of Sibyl Vane. Dorian makes his admiration for Sibyl apparent when he openly proclaims, “I love Sibyl Vane. I want to place her on a pedestal of gold, and to...

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