A Biblical Comparison to the Picture of Dorian Gray

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A Biblical Comparison to The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for eternal youth. Dorian Gray is a young man of extraordinary beauty and innocence. Basil Hallward, a young talented artist, recognizes the purity and attractiveness of Dorian and he paints a portrait of him which captures all the life and loveliness of Dorian's soul. Lord Henry Wotten, a member of the idle aristocracy of London, is enraptured by the portrait and determines to take the impressionable Dorian Gray under his guidance. Upon meeting Lord Henry, Dorian is attracted to his worldly knowledge and his theories of the privileges of youth, the potency of the senses, and unrestrained impulsive pleasures that can be his without a pained conscience. This seductive sermon given to Dorian changes his life as he realizes for the first time that he is beautiful and decides to live by Lord Henry's devilish theories. Dorian laments that the portrait of himself will stay eternally young and portray his comeliness, but he will grow old and ugly with the passing of time and experience. Dorian utters a wild prayer wishing that the portrait would receive all the signs of old age and the hideousness of his sins and that he would remain untouched and lovely.

Soon after, Dorian falls in love with a girl named Sybil Vane, who kills herself when Dorian treats her cruelly. This is the first time that Dorian realizes that his wicked prayer has been granted and the portrait shows the ugly mark of his sin. From this time forth, every fresh sin that he commits is imprinted on the canvas. Dorian remains unscathed and lovely to look at as he continues in a path of cruelty, sensuality, treachery, and crime. Eventually Dorian even kills Basil, who reminds him of his suppressed conscience. Finally, Dorian makes one final attempt to destroy his conscience by stabbing the portrait with the same knife that murdered Basil, but the knife is delivered to Dorian's own heart. The portrait then regains the pure beauty that Basil painted it with and Dorian is transfigured into a decaying, hideous old man, the image of his true self.

The story of Dorian Gray's life parallels the Biblical story of the fall of man from innocence to the knowledge of good and evil. With Dorian's new knowledge he is given free choice and accountability, like the first man of the Bible, Adam. However, Dorian chooses to do evil and evade the responsibility for his actions, which will leads him to hell. Satan's plan, followed diligently by Dorian, was a lie. There was no such thing as eternal beauty without goodness.

As the story begins, Lord Henry and Basil Hallward's discussion about young Dorian sets the stage for his likeness to Adam in the Bible. Basil describes Dorian as a perfect creation of God, blessed with golden curly hair, a finely sculptured body, youthful joyousness, purity, and innocence. Basil considers him a lovely boy in perfect circumstances to represent the goodness and beauty of God. Adam also was created in the likeness of God with perfection and innocence

Lord Henry Wotten plays the part of the serpent in Dorian's garden of Eden. Basil, who represents the good force in Dorian's life, recognizes that Lord Henry is evil and begs him to leave the garden and Adam alone, so that Dorian's purity might remain unscathed. However, Lord Henry recognizes his chance to tempt and corrupt Dorian and he refuses to leave. Like Satan in the Bible, Lord Henry wants to mold and destroy Dorian out of jealousy for Dorian's perfect mortal body. He can not have his own flawless body so he must control Dorian's body. Lord Henry felt "there was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence . . . To project one's soul into some gracious form" (Wilde 35).

His role as the seducer of Dorian Gray begins while Dorian is posing for a portrait that Basil is just...
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