Oscar Wildes The Picture of Dorian Gray is a controversial novel about the vanity of youth and how it corrupts the very heart of the human soul. Wilde intended this novel to be a parable, warning its readers about the nature of humanity and how easily a human soul can be corrupted. From the very beginning, Dorian Gray is depicted as a handsome youth; however, as a young man, he is still na??ve about the ways of the world. As such, he is still an innocent, and his soul is yet unstained by the evil, corrupting nature of society. However, it does not take long until the first seeds of corruption take hold. Dorian meets a man named Lord Henry a man who is immediately smitten by Dorians good looks. Insecure about his own looks and feeling a pang of jealousy, Lord Henry laments, youth is the one thing worth having and someday, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly you will feel it (Wilde 20).
A representation of society particularly the society of Grays time Lord Henry equates youth and beauty. Looking at Dorian, Lord Henry notices his graying hair and wrinkly face, and feels his own mortality. Suddenly, Lord Henrys clothes dont seem as nice. His wifes smile doesnt feel as genuine. Everything to him is old and gray except Dorian. Dorian notices this as well, and he notices how people love him for his youth and his beauty. They believe him to be good because he is young, because he is handsome. He begins to surround himself with beautiful things: people, jewelry, etc. But he doesnt value them only what they represent. He is unable to even see the humanity in people. He does not care about their problems about their feelings. He only cares about their looks.
As such, his soul is now corrupted and he has lost touch with his own humanity. He has become like the rest of society. So when Basil presents him with a beautiful portrait of himself, Dorian instead begins to see his own flaws. He begins to hate the beauty he sees because he knows, unlike him, it will stay forever young. Forever beautiful as society tells him. In this state of disillusionment, he makes a Faustian deal, wishing the painting should age and show the ravages of the world while Dorian himself could go on being youthful and handsome (and, in his disillusioned view of the world, good) forever. In essence, he gives away his soul, and everything that is good in him, to be what society wants. And when he learns and celebrates that the painting, not he himself, takes on all the scars of the world and that he can live a consequence free life, his corruption becomes complete.
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