Influences in The Picture of Dorian Gray Essay

Submitted By Lisette-Elena
Words: 1273
Pages: 6

I. Thesis Statement: Influence comes with an onerous price.

II. Damage is determined by the way in which one is affected by inevitable outside influences.
a. Dorian’s exposure to outside influences.
b. Dorian’s corruption and, through him, the corruption of others.

III. Falling under the influence of idolization comes at the cost of one’s powers of reasoning.
a. Reasoning behind Basil’s idolization.
b. Faults in idolization and their consequences.

IV. Art can exert a detrimental influence.
a. Dorian’s realization of his own beauty because of the portrait.
b. The portrait’s scars looming over Dorian.

V. Conclusion

Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray depicts a character that barters his soul for eternal youth, and in turn, engages in murder, scandal, and drug abuse. The fall of the protagonist Dorian Gray depicts the way in which individuals are susceptible to deterioration by way of foreign factors. The novel is situated in the influential late-eighteenth century where a pure soul practically cannot elude the deleterious guidance of English society. Wilde characterizes Lord Henry Wotton, Basil Howard, and the portrait of Dorian Gray as contributors to Dorian’s tragic downfall, which suggests influence comes with an onerous price. Assuredly, damage is determined by the way in which one is affected by inevitable outside influences. The novel begins with descriptions of the opulent setting such as “the rich odor of roses” and “long tussore-silk curtains” (Wilde 1), indicating that beauty will significantly influence the novel. Awareness of outside influences is arduous to achieve, considering the numerous ways these stimuli are presented. Perhaps their presence is predestined. Lord Henry Wotton says that there is “something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence” (39), which may be the reason he styles an instrument out of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray accepts Henry’s witty teachings about the lifestyle where aestheticism rises above all in importance, and when Dorian Gray puts these words into actions, he realizes the appearance of gruesome transformations in his portrait. By conditioning his mind with Henry’s chatter, Dorian Gray leaves the pure psyche that inspired Basil’s paintings. At this point, “Totally under Lord Henry’s spell, this refined young man with high ideals adopts his mentor’s words to the best of his ability” (Aubrey 2). Henry’s philosophical ideas also result in Basil’s downfall as an artist because he loses his inspirational muse. Dorian converts into a creature that only seeks true beauty in the form of art, which he finds in the poor actress Sibyl Vane. At her performances, Dorian is astonished by Sibyl’s wonderful voice. In their case, Dorian serves as the influence to which Sibyl wholeheartedly devotes her entire being. When she drops her artistic talent, Dorian discards her immediately because she no longer radiates the creative beauty he loves. Since she grasped him so tightly, losing him was more than she could bear. The damage is done when the poison from the drink strikes her heart and stops her breath. Consequently, Dorian realizes that he indirectly murdered Sibyl Vane and this consciousness causes a weakness of his consciousness. This internal conflict allows him to become liable to negative outside influences that will only continue throughout the novel. What once seemed like a saving grace for Dorian has turned against him because he chooses selfishness over good influences. Falling under the influence of idolization comes at the cost of one’s powers of reasoning. Basil Hallward exemplifies this kind of influence. Considering Basil’s artistic nature, it is not hard to see why Basil came to worship Dorian, because beauty is an important factor of artwork. Basil cannot clearly differentiate between real life and art and it obscures his judgment about the world. In art, beauty parallels virtuous acts, but beauty does not equal