The Picture of Dorian Gray Essay

915 WordsOct 29, 20144 Pages
“The Picture of Dorian Gray” What is the theme of the story? Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a story about a young man whose desire to maintain his youth and beauty renders his soul irrevocably damaged. When Dorian expresses a desire for his portrait to grow old and wither in his stead, he is shocked to find his wish has been granted. As he gets older, it is his picture that ages physically and not him. By virtue of his narcissism ,hedonism, and disregard for others, his portrait grown uglier and uglier. There are allusions in the text that indicate the portrait as a representation of his soul. There are various themes which Oscar Wilde wanted to present to the readers. The value of beauty and youth, the influence and corruption and appearance vs reality. Lord Henry claims to value beauty and youth above all else. “When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it. Then you’ll suddenly discover that your life is empty - there will be nothing to enjoy, nothing to hope for. Time is your enemy. It will steal everything from you. You must live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! There is nothing in the world as important as youth!” (pg11) It is this belief, when imparted to Dorian, that drives him to make the wish that ultimately damns him. When Dorian realizes that he will keep his youthful appearance regardless of whatever immoral actions he indulges in, he considers himself free of the moral constraints faced by ordinary men. He values his physical appearance more than the state of his soul, which is openly displayed by the degradation of the portrait. This faith in the ultimate value of youth and beauty is therefore the driving mechanism behind the Dorian’s damnation. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” may be warning the readers about the dangers of valuing one’s appearance too highly, and of neglecting one’s conscience.

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