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The Picture Of Dorian Gray Analysis

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The Picture Of Dorian Gray Analysis
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde constructs a tale in which Dorian Gray’s desire to stay young forever becomes a Faustian pact. His journey begins when Basil insists on painting him even though Dorian resists this. It is possible he protests too much, but it is also possible he feels a bit embarrassed as well as flattered with the attention. One might consider this the gate into the garden (of Eden) where Sir Henry plays the part of the devil tempting Dorian to take youth and beauty serious when he says:
[b]eauty is a form of genius—is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. […] You smile? Ah! when you have lost it you won’t smile…. People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. […] to me, beauty is the wonder
…show more content…
Having planted this seed, Sir Henry (more than a little enamored of Dorian’s beauty) imagines Dorian might embody a new hedonism, though I imagine it is a Dionysian hedonism that revels in youth and heightened senses. In describing his own regrets in losing his youth, Sir Henry effectively creates in Dorian a desire to remain …show more content…
Basil worships the painting and the man, admitting that he had once told Sir Henry that “[Dorian is] made to be worshipped” (142). The idolatry Basil feels saves him; the success he has in observing the moral duality embedded in Dorian (and humanity) destroys him. Before killing Basil as the two review the corrupted painting, Dorian reveals that “[e]ach one of us has Heaven and Hell in him” (192). Unlike Dr. Jekyll who represses his animalistic compulsions, Dorian is aware of the decisions he makes and the terrible consequences on his soul. He also makes a conscious decision to succumb to his base instincts, acting with an agency that is shocking and thrilling. In a way, Dorian acts as a form of catharsis for the reader, allowing each individual to live this wanton existence experiencing a guilty thrill in the process. The reader, too, feels the release of these pressures when Dorian effectively destroys himself when he destroys the painting. After he had destroyed what was gentle and benevolent in himself, the only thing left was to destroy the

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