The Picture of Dorian Gray

how to analyse dorian's character?

analysis of dorian's character

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Dorian Gray begins the novel as a young, exceptionally good looking man, who is more than a bit vain. Soon after the novel begins, he becomes a muse for the painter Basil Howard, well, more than a muse; he becomes an obsession. Basil loves him and spends his days capturing what he sees as Dorian's ideal beauty on canvas.

Dorian is introduced to Lord Henry Wotton by Basil, and the nobleman, like Basil becomes fascinated by the subject. Lord Henry is intelligent, witty, and quite the charmer; he is also a deviate. He adheres to a philosophy that frees individuals from all responsibility for their actions, a hedonist if you will, and his joy in life becomes the destruction of Dorian.

Dorian is a follower. Easily led, Henry has no problem snaring Dorian, and Dorian quickly succumbs to a lifestyle that aims for nothing more than the attainment of pleasure. He's like clay in the other man's hands; malleable and soft, without a shape of his own. His vanity is so great, that Lord Henry is even capable of making him believe the youth and beauty he possesses decrease by the day, and because of this Dorian sinks lower and lower in a desire to find a way to immortalize his beauty even if it means bargaining with the devil.

As Dorian deteriorates mentally, the painting becomes his ideal, and all he wants is to preserve the man Basil put to canvas. He falls in love, and Lord Henry assists him in destroying not only the love but the girl as well........... and because of Lord Henry's teachings feels no remorse, no guilt (at least not yet).

After Sibyl’s suicide, Dorian notices the first change in his portrait—evidence that his portrait is showing the effects of age and experience while his body remains ever youthful....... he'd bargained with the devil, but can he live with it? Lord Henry’s philosophy has promised freedom from worry, but has it given him that freedom? Maybe for awhile, as we see that Dorian is initially capable of viewing Sibyl’s death as an achievement rather than a tragedy. Thus begins his true fall.............

As Dorian’s sins grow, his likeness grows more hideous. Dorian seems to have no conscience, but he does desire repentance, we eventually see a bit of humanity in him. He surrounds himself with beautiful things, but can't see past his own ugliness, and then he murders his friend Basil and becomes truly lost. In the end, Lord Henry sees his theories realized but not completely. Reckless, pleasure seeking behaviors have been acted out, the man he sought to influence was indeed influenced, but not without remorse............ because Dorian can't live with what he's done. His ultimate descent into hedonism did not come without cost.


The Picture of Dorian Gray