The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Throughout the nineteenth century setting of London a recurring theme of hedonism and thorough admiration for beauty and individualism reflect Dorian’s inner motives as well as his long sought self purpose. In this sense the most significant moral of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is that the supreme task of the individual is to realize fully, and from within, one’s own identity. Dorian exemplifies the drama of his troubles on the rough journey to find his identity from influences of a conceited hedonistic friend, and in the sacrifices of morals seeking irrevocable pleasures through irrevocable sins. The impressionable young Dorian proves to be as interesting a thing to analyze in his youthful nature as any other social bemusement for Lord Henry. He begins to offer advice and sharing his hedonistic ideals with the lad along with a lesson on realizing thy self’s interests, “To be good is to be in harmony with one's self…Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others. One's own life—that is the important thing.” (Wilde 88). As Gray looks to this as his chance to embrace life more than anything else, even in the face of love, he adopts it as a standard to live by. Lord Henry convinces him that the true path to happiness is being true to what is his own souls’ desire. This puts it in Dorian Gray’s fragile heart that it is more important to attend to his aspirations and reputation than even Sibyl Vanes’ needs, who he believes he holds endearingly; though it is the art he sees her portray that is so relative to his love. Through Wilde’s representation of simple moralistic people and those who lack judgment through their ignorance like Henry, it is apparent that Dorian is being pushed off the path of his own righteousness and identity. Another application of Henry’s influence over Dorian’s search for his happiness and identity is his connection of the body’s feelings to the state of the soul. As Dorian travels to the opium dens in search of a way of...
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