“The content of the writing brings you directly into the author’s mind. ” In the novel, Dorian Gray, the author, Oscar Wilde, related the values during the 19th century through his characters. His personality and view of life is expressed through his novel-“Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks of me: Dorian what I would like to be” On the surface, Dorian Gray is an example of a typical ideal aristocrat during the time which Oscar Wilde lived in. Throughout the novel, Dorian goes through stages in his life that leads to his self-absorbed and corrupted character.
His curiosity of life strives him to explore these stages. Even till this day there are examples of “Dorians” in our society. They believe they are living in an age of continual crisis and are searching for ways to put meaning back to their lives. At the beginning, Basil paints a portrait of Dorian Gray that people see as an appreciation of Dorian’s beauty. Dorian is so pure and innocent-he doesn’t know anything about the anxiety of life. He has all the beauty of a child in him, but then Lord Henry enters into the picture with his influential goal for life and its meaning. “Don’t spoil him.
Don’t try to influence him. Your influence would be bad. ” Lord Henry taunts Dorian and continues to remind him of all the sin that is building up and that even though his body is not aging, his soul is deteriorating fast. Lord Henry is the beginning of his corruption, but he isn’t the entire reason for this development. Sibyl Vane’s death happened on the verge of his transformation. She is the entire innocence, beauty, and purity that are in him. When she dies, she takes his whole childhood away. He feels empty without his innocence and he filled this emptiness by answering to his corrupted transformation.
It is after her death that he recognizes his sins-he realizes how horrible he had treated her on the night she confesses her undying love for him. The most important thing is that it is his choice to go along with Lord Henry and his luring thoughts. From this point on, he starts ruining his life and soul. He gets a bad reputation in society, murders Basil, and starts taking opium. Even his last hope for salvation-Hetty-doesn’t save his soul from the shadow, which has suppressed all that is shameful in his life. As a result, he stabs the painting. The painting is all of Dorian’s hate, fear, and sadness reduced onto a canvass.
He gives up his soul over his body, and ends up losing it all. His body is only a shell that protects him from showing his shameful self. His shell is his superficial self; it is the soul underneath this shell that he finds his true self. Without his soul, he has nothing and no meaning in life. The value of true beauty relates to both the novel and the 19th century. In the novel, Oscar Wilde emphasizes on the value of beauty. “Beauty is a form of Genius-is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation. ” However, both Dorian and the 19th century lack true beauty.
Dorian Gray “sold himself to the devil for a pretty face”. They’re both empty on the inside, with no religion at all, which leads to Nietzsche and his philosophy that “God is dead”. In the novel, Basil acts as God, Lord Henry as Nietzsche, and Dorian as the 19th century. During the Renaissance, people used to be really faithful to God like Dorian and Basil used to be friends. Then, along came Lord Henry who influences us with his corrupted thoughts. Eventually, we lose our image of God and even “kill him”. We cover this emptiness with a thin superficial shield.
Personalities like Dorian are seen in our society today. Modern Dorians might be slightly different, but they all value beauty. Movie stars are all examples of modern Dorians. They take advantage of their appearances-you don’t usually see ugly people in movies do you? Most of us know their them as their superficial self but not who they really are. Models nowadays start working when they’re sixteen and when they reach their late twenties, they’re forced to quit. They are treated like little toys that entertain us the first few weeks when it’s out but when it gets old we don’t even bother to look at it.
Women wear shoulder pads to look more masculine and confident. We care so much about image and we always treat people according to who they are and what they look like. Lots of the students in school attend classes, complete their homework, or participate in class because of their grades and only for their grades. They don’t care what we’ve learned. That’s exactly like Dorian, looking good with the good grades but never really adding any knowledge inside. With our high A. Q. , we are always reaching for the top and experiencing change and growth.
We are always willing to reach for the top and always have the desire to be better than others are. False beauty is expressed many times throughout the century. It always overcomes us and we lose sense of our true beauty or even worst, our soul. We can’t always blame ourselves for desiring to choose our bodies over our souls. One of the biggest reasons for the outcome of “modern Dorians” is because of our expectations as a society. We expect so much of people that we sometimes change to meet others’ or even our own expectations.