The Picture of Dorian Gray

Lord Henry’s Experiment: A Life without Restraint College

In the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, an experienced and insightful man shares a compelling life philosophy with a younger, less refined man. This transmission of ideas opens the interpretation of how art and society influence identity in ways that don’t at first seem innate. While the artist, Basil, transforms Dorian Gray into a work of art, his acquaintance, Lord Henry, speaks to Dorian of the wonders and the tragedies of the human condition. Though Dorian is the subject of Basil’s art, Henry recognizes him as pure, and takes the chance to make Dorian a subject of his own. Basil’s purpose is to create a masterpiece that captures an abstract sense of beauty, but do Henry’s assertions have an end in mind as well? He tells Dorian of the deep misery that men feel from having denied themselves joy in life, that the chance to act upon innate urges only exits in youth, and that Dorian will be separated from his charm sooner than he realizes. Hearing of youth’s brevity bewilders Dorian and instills in him an urgency to work against his inevitable demise. In his diminished state, Dorian is impressionable, and it so happens that his impromptu teacher, Lord Henry, is well prepared to discuss the methods of leading a...

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