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Vanity Of A Man Essay

1510 words - 7 pages

Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, shows a man’s vanity, self- indulgence and utter lack of regard for others through art. The portrait of Dorian Gray, created at the height of Dorian’s beauty, youth and charm is a reflection of the evils in basing the worth of someone on appearance rather than character. Since those around him find him beautiful and charming, Dorian believes that that the only thing matters is his appearance, so that he is able to focus on his own needs and wants. Showing how vain people in a society can really be, and its destructive force, is Wilde’s ultimate statement. After Basil Hallward paints a magnificent portrait of Dorian Gray, the painting ...view middle of the document...

Dorian loves her because of what is on the outside and does not take the time to get to know Sibyl the person before he declares his love for her. Falling in love with Sibyl based on her looks and because she can transform herself with her acting so she can be whoever Dorian wants her to be, shows just how vain Dorian is. The night Sibyl plays Juliet, in William Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, she acts horribly, infuriating Dorian and embarrassing him in front of Basil and Lord Henry. He storms backstage into Sibyl’s dressing room and yells, “You have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don’t even stir my curiosity” (Wilde, 63). Before the performance Dorian claims to be madly in love with Sibyl, now that he no longer sees her as a great actress, he suddenly hates her and believes it to be all Sibyl’s fault. Dorian’s says, “You have spoiled the romance of my life. How little can you know of love, if you say it mars your art! Without your art you are nothing. I would have made you famous, splendid, magnificent. The world would have worshipped you, and you would have borne my name” (Wilde, 64). In his fit of rage, Dorian reveals his true character, that his love for Sibyl had nothing to do with her as a person, and instead it is only about what is important to him and how she would reflect upon him in the eyes of the world. Sibyl ends up killing herself when Dorian leaves. Dorian’s vanity and self-interest reveal his cruelty and disregard for others. Dorian believes that he is above others and that the rules of society do not apply to him.
When Dorian learns the next day that Sibyl is dead, instead of mourning her, Dorian goes to the Opera with Lord Henry. Dorian does not care about the pain he caused Sibyl or that she is dead, all that matters to him are his own pleasures. When Dorian tells Basil that he went to the Opera, Basil cannot hide his shock. “You went to the Opera while Sibyl Vane was lying dead in some lodging? You can talk to me of other women being charming, and of Patti singing divinely, before the girl you loved has even the quiet of a grave to sleep in?” (Wilde, 79). Dorian believes he is entitled to do what he wants, when he wants, regardless of what society’s rules may be. Sibyl’s death should not interfere with his fun, but Basil is appalled and says to Dorian, “Now, I don’t know what has come over you. You talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you” (Wilde, 79). Basil still sees Dorian as the beautiful boy he put on the pedestal. However, Dorian blames Basil for his actions saying “You taught me to be vain.” (Wilde, 79). Dorian has not a care in the world for anybody, but only for himself. Oscar Wilde also shows the vanity of a man as a theme through Lord Henry’s personality as well. Lord Henry is just as wicked as Dorian, possibly even worse. Lord Henry does not care about Sibyl Vane and that she is dead. It does not bother Lord Henry that Dorian was the reason behind Sibyl’s suicide when...

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