Journal Entry: The Time I Was Called a Cradle Robber vs. Tabula Rasa Dorian Gray is simply too young to be in his twenties His sapphire blue eyes are wells-magnetic. The boyish crinkling of his eyes when he smiles-oh, his smile is too genuine to be contrived. There is something brilliant in the pureness that radiates about him. If not for his bowtie, I would have thought he had lived in the countryside all his life-what a terrible waste of his Youth! I don’t quite remember being Young-other than the simple, free joy of it. I would look outside and be enthralled by a caterpillar climbing a tree.
I would spend hours and hours watching its movements. Everything had been bold and bright and new. And welcoming, too, of course. There would have been no pleasure if not for people-and no people if not for pleasure. Oh, how soon the seasons changed. Change-they still do. Experiences have been reduced to truths that transcend: there is no excitement in routine. I would die of ennui if I was always on time. Thus, I have made a habit of always being five minutes late. Basil is focused on the picture of Dorian-the golden boy on the silver pedestal.
Even if he was to slip off into the abyss, Basil could not perceive him differently. He is blind to the faults of Beauty. No fault of his, of course. It is simply human nature. When we leave Basil’s house, I reach into my pocket. Dorian looks puzzled when I offer him a cigarette, as though he doesn’t know what to do with it. The very notion brings me to tears-of laughter. When he does finally light it, his eyes are fearful-but only for an instant before he takes my advice and his eyes roll back into his head with pleasure. I smile, shaking my head, amazed at my new discovery.
He’s such a gem, really. All these years that Basil has hidden him from the world were a wasted opportunity-for Dorian most of all. A boy like him belongs to the world. I’ve never met someone so untarnished. I almost go dizzy with excitement thinking of all the things I could teach him. Basil thinks I’ll corrupt Dorian. His complaining grates on my nerves. Grates on Dorian too, I can see. I feel a bit proud that he’s fallen out of grace with Basil. The man is no doubt a wonderful painter, but lifeless and tedious in all other domains of life.
Only I can redefine Dorian-show him his full potential. He would be the perfect apartment pet. I could introduce him to high society Lord Williams introduced his son only the past fortnight, and James was barely old enough to be drinking cider. Not like that childish rule stopped anyone before, of course. But Dorian’s of a much better sort than James. He knows his manners-never leave a lady attended, never say what one thinks, and always, always say yes to another glass of Madeira if Edith-but not if Gertrude-offers it. Dorian’s morals are yet to be formed but they’ll come with Time.
But he doesn’t know the power of his Beauty and Youth. Those eyes could drive any woman to do terrible things in the spur of the moment, too fast to regret them. He must move quickly too. If he stays with one woman for too long, he might run the risk of getting interested-or boring himself. I cannot recall which is worse. There are simpler pleasures too, of course, ones less involved. How could I forget about Colors? Dorian has not seen anything but shades of white. What bliss it must be to be introduced to Red! I feel myself growing a little envious. The opera is splendid this time of year.
We wouldn’t go there to listen to the voices, of course-the voices are simply awful-but there are always new people to be introduced to and routinely forget. Yet depending on people for amusement is a risky venture. The food is always more reliable. Organic lambs doused in fresh preservatives, bearnaise sauce drizzled over a cote de boeuf: what more could one ask for? (Love. ) But reliability is a burden. To spice things up a bit, we could blindfold ourselves, spin around, and choose a destination-to the dog races, perhaps, to watch the men bark at each other’s throats and the dogs have words.
Or there is always the option of taking on another identity for a few hourslong enough to forget the past but short enough to maintain one’s own sense of self. Maintenance is key. We could traverse the Thames and spend a night with a woman of the East End. I know a good number of gentlemen who go to the East End to study poverty. Nonetheless, I shall lead Dorian into the richness of life slowly. First, a small taste. He might grow disgusted with himself if I return him to Basil or himself for too long. His morals might come back, God forbid, and he would try taking smaller portions.
Restrict himself, hold himself back. (Drunkenness and debauchery are actions-choices, decisions. How can a choice be dangerous? The forbidden fruit is only forbidden to the lower classes. ) But, no doubt, Dorian will soon grow eager for more. Once he has had a taste, his hands will constantly be in search of the silver spoon. He will never be satiated. He will need a new flavor-something spicier and hotter until it grows into a flame that burns off his tongue-and still, he will not be content. He will no longer savor the richness but devour it. But it would fade like all things, with time.
There are only new pleasures in Youth. I’m not too worried about Dorian burning himself. I know of all the wonderful, sordid pleasures of the world, yet I rarely engage in them. The pretense of a hidden, immoral thing is a much greater excitement than the affair itself. He looks frightened when I share with him my thoughts: like a newborn deer separated from its mother-lost. I console him. It will be easy for him to find his place in the world now that he knows its truth(s). Oh, what a day! I have done a good deed and made a new friend, all before the dinner bell has rung.
I feel young once more, having imparted the knowledge of my Age. There is much to be done. The dominant motifs I attempted to convey were the shallowness and hypocrisy of mankind, the danger of idealism, the inevitability of Age, and the power of manipulation. The superficial nature of mankind is highlighted through Lord Henry’s emphasis on Beauty. His espousal of hedonism represents high society at the time. He engages in carnal and plebeian pastimes alike, acting as though the purpose of life is maximizing his pleasure.
While Lord Henry spends most of his time engaging with members of high society, such as at the opera, many of these “gentlemen” escape to East End – a place of poverty in London – that parallels the opium dens shown in the novel. The degradation of their inward morals stands in stark contrast to the outward beauty of their visages and jewels. Nonetheless, they are not able to find eternal happiness. They engage in reckless activities but are still bound within certain confines. They lack love through meaningful connections and relationships, and thus look for it elsewhere.
Throughout the novel, Lord Henry unintentionally – or intentionally – influences Dorian, molding him into the reckless monster he becomes. However, Lord Henry is unaware of the power of his own words – he himself states that influence is dangerous, but does not seem to believe that Dorian will turn into a monster. He seems to believe that he is helping Dorian by exposing him to the full richness and beauty of life. Lord Henry encourages Dorian to explore the indulgences of Life – smoking, opium dens, women, rich food – and to ultimately be reckless, since as long as Dorian is outwardly beautiful, he will not be judged.
This reflects man’s fascination with Beauty (and Art). In the second to last paragraph of page 3, the repetition of the word “will” is used to underscore the irony of the situation – the fact that Dorian has no free will. The situation grows beyond his control. He is simply a man, and forces such as Life and Youth are beyond him. The phrase “the golden boy on the silver pedestal” establishes a contrast between “gold” and “silver. ” Even the pedestal pales in comparison to Dorian.
As a result, he cannot possibly match the idealistic image that Basil has created of him, highlighting the danger of idealism. Lord Henry describing Dorian as a “gem” shows how he views Dorian’s beauty as a sort of eternal art, much like Basil does. In addition, the description of Dorian’s “sapphire blue eyes” hints at a fixed sort of beauty – things like jewels do not fade. The colors “white” and “red” are symbolic for Dorian’s shift from a state of pureness to one of sin. The “burning” section, which is symbolic of the fires of Hell, reinforces this message.