Motifs in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Dorian Gray Motif Notebook

Beauty:
“If this girl can give soul to those who have lived without one, if she can create the sense of beauty in people whose lives have been sordid and ugly, if she can strip them of their selfishness and lend them tears for sorrows that are not their own, she is worthy of all your adoration, worthy of the adoration of the world” (59). Sibyl has inner beauty and Basil realizes that, but Lord Henry and Dorian only see the physical or symbolic beauty of her form. This is contrary to the reoccurring idea that beauty is only skin deep like Dorian for example he is beautiful on the outside but horrible on the inside. “For the wonderful beauty that had so fascinated Basil Hallward, and many other besides him, seemed never to leave him. Even those who had heard the most evil thing against him, and from time to time strange rumours about his mode of life crept through London and became the chatter of the clubs, could not believe anything to his dishonour when they saw him” (93). Shows how society judges people by their looks. They project the desirable traits that they believe they should have, but in reality they're the same as other people. Even though his reputation is being questioned when people see him all they see is his beauty. “He grew more and more enamored of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul” (93). Morbid fascination with the portrait. Its so horrifying but he can not look away. “I have got through all that,” said Dorian, shaking his head, and smiling. “I am perfectly happy now. I know what conscience is, to begin with. It is not what you told me it was. It is the divinest thing in us. Don’t sneer at it, Harry, any more — at least, not before me. I want to be good. I can’t bear the idea of my soul being hideous.” (142).

Dorian is still completely obsessed with his looks so in an attempt to purge himself he “spared an innocent thing” but because he did it because he did not want to...
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