Youth and Corruption
Youth is an important factor in the character development in the Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Dorian is a child and his actions have no negative impact upon his own physical being, unlike the rest of the world. Once Dorian understands his actions have no impact upon his body and his soul takes the brunt of his actions he stops maturing and reverts from a kind, compassionate, and caring person to a child caring only for his own wants and desires. With body and soul separated by the portrait Dorian finds himself free to do as he pleases without consequence. What drives Dorian towards a life of sin? A simple answer is corruption, which is agreed upon by many but the cause is different to Dorian it is art, to Henry it is the person them self, and to Basil believes it is youth. While there are many other potential sources these are the points which stand above the others
Basil’s questioning of Dorian marrying an actress from the slums of London begins to show Basil evolving to a position of the super ego he knows what is right yet is over ruled by the devil on Dorian’s Shoulder, Lord Henry. Both men idolize youth they both make Dorian Gray to be the symbol of youthfulness. Basil is ultimately self-defeating when he presents the portrait Dorian Gray and he begins to idolize the lifestyle of Lord Henry. It is made clear to Dorian that it is Hippocratic to change your ways to appear pure after a lifetime immorality. “Even the cardinal virtues cannot atone for half-cold entrées,” (Wilde). Even though he is warned early of the risks of the lifestyle, Dorian follows in the ways of Lord Henry. A life of hypocrisy is comparable to the aristocratic life Dorian lives he, “can flaunt [his] moral views about [himself], but they are not one’s concern.”(Wilde) the lifestyle chosen by Dorian is one of impulsive behavior driven by his own wants with disregard for the rules of society however the laws of the land have checked what is instinctively human; “With desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”(Wilde) Following societies morals will not always mean success. Even though Dorian acknowledges he does not love Sybil for the right reasons he is punished for his refusal to marry her, “Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us”(Wilde) When Dorian is informed that Sybil committed suicide his portrait changes and to absorbs his sins and changes. Dorian out of fear of discovery locks up the portrait so no one may view it and the evil it had become. Prolonged youth is merely the perpetual state of Dorian’s being so it is not in itself a source of corruption just an enabler.
Art is a form of expression which Dorian believes is a corrupting influence upon himself Dorian understands how corrupt he has become and the weight of his actions he drops...