Falling Under the Influnce: the Picture of Dorian Gray

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Falling Under the Influence
Art can inspire brilliant ranges of emotion, and for Dorian Gray, it inspired more than emotion alone. A single portrait held the power to influence the track of Dorian‘s life, as did other forms of art that were equally as powerful. In The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the main character, Dorian Gray, morphs from a philanthropic boy to a pompous monster, brainwashed by the arts. He gradually becomes obsessed with the science of beauty and, more specifically, his looks. In this novel, it can be observed how Dorian allows his environment to take control of how his life pans out in more ways than one.

Dorian Gray does not begin as a slave to vanity. His obsession begins under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton. The more time that is spent with Henry, the more contrast there is from Dorian’s original, naïve disposition. The first major change in Dorian’s personality begins with a stroll in the garden. While talking with Henry, Dorian rapidly falls into the lure of Henry’s speech. “’Yes, Mr. Gray, the gods have been good to you. But what the gods give they quickly take away […] When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you…’” (24). Dorian interprets this too literally, wishing that he should never age. This wish is granted, and Dorian’s portrait ages for him. Meanwhile, Dorian remains handsome by looks, but becomes ugly by the foulness of his character.

Aside from advice, another of Lord Henry’s “gifts” to Dorian is a novel about a man who attempts to absorb as much aesthetics as possible, with whom Dorian chooses to relate. The Yellow Book, which is Chapter Eleven’s main focus, has an unbelievable effect on Dorian. The narrator states that “Dorian Gray had been poisoned by [The Yellow Book.] There were moments when he looked at evil simply as a mode through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful” (150). Only by...
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