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Themes Of Obsession In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1574 words - 7 pages

Obsession in its nature is toxic; it turns people into gods, and leaves no room for their actual selves. Celebrities are the idols of the modern world, where ever they go, a fan follows them dying to get their attention. Dorian Gray, who was loved by nearly all of London for his charm and beauty, who’s biggest fan, Basil, worship of him lead to bitterness. The theme of obsession in The Picture of Dorian Gray is seen through both those who worship Dorian Gray, and the portrait, which is the object of Dorian's obsession. Although Wilde displays obsession through Basil's worship of Dorian, and even Dorian's obsession with himself and his youth, the modern day celebrity is a parallel to Dorian, ...view middle of the document...

Modern society may have a different class system, since the rich are not always known or worshipped like in Dorian’s time, but the artists, actors and socialites that dominate Hollywood are worshipped and obsessed over.
Celebrities’ actions are followed by every news channel, gossip magazine and adoring fan; in the age of fandoms and the internet it is all too easy to become obsessed. Fandoms, which is a term used to describe a group of fans for a particular celebrity, television show, book, or other media, obsess over their stars, allowing celebrities to have even more influence than ever before (Orgeron). The effects of Celebrity influence has seen tangible effects, popular culture magazines have gone up 18.7% in circulation compared to the 2% to magazines like Time or New Yorker along with the rise of social advocacy among celebrities; people are more likely to take in information if a celebrity, not a scientist, is telling them about it (Choi, Berger 314). The internet is blamed, especially since it makes accessing any information easier, which makes tracking celebrities daily lives easier; but the spread of information alone does not explain why someone would obsess over a stranger,
“Evolutionary psychologists discuss the possibility that the global internet has made it easier for people to act on their traditional impulses towards admiration and being admired… This creates "prestige hierarchies", where those with the most valuable skills to be imitated are placed at the top of this hierarchy,” (Choi, Berger 315).
Humans want to fit in as social creatures, and their obsessions with celebrities help them blend in with the general population who are also trying to reach the top of the hierarchy. Basil did not want to become Dorian, he thought he was perfect in the way that many fans view their favorite stars. The traits that these idols have are desired, for Basil it was beauty, and for modern society beauty is just as sought after.
Beauty is ideal in Wilde’s novel, it is the only thing that matters, and Dorian Gray’s desire to maintain his beauty no doubt morphs into an obsession. Dorian’s main obsession with beauty is seen through the portrait, and his narcissism; with the portrait being his inward beauty, or his soul, as it corrupts his outward appearance. As early as Dorian’s introduction the importance of beauty, is shown, “Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus,” (Wilde 6). The theme that beauty is a valued possession that needs to be protected is seen through Dorian’s obsession with the corruption of the portrait. As Dorian experiments with hedonism or living a life full of sensation, the portrait decays, and become sinister, as if it holds his very soul, “What the worm was to the corps, his sins would be to the painted image on the canvas. They would mar beauty, and eat away its grace,” (Wilde 115). Dorian becomes so corrupted that he loses the will to live, he hates himself, and even murders Basil because he is so consumed by his...

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