The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Life of Secrecy

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde writes of a beautiful young man with an ugly secret. While Dorian Gray will forever retain the innocent looks of his youth, his portrait will degenerate with every wrong he commits. Unburdened and unmarked by his corruption, Dorian behaves as he wills, performing numerous unspeakable acts that he must never expose. Throughout the novel, Wilde explores the theme of the power of secrecy, of which Dorian is only one example. In addition to driving Dorian to hideous crimes, secrecy also wields enormous influence over all the major characters. It dictates their relations to each other, is the impetus behind their actions, and even determines their death hour.

Secrecy is the foundation of all romantic relationships in the novel. "When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving oneself, and one always ends by deceiving others" (Wilde, 197). Of marriage, Lord Henry states: "the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties" (Wilde, 143). Though Lord Henry's assertions are always doubtful, it does appear that his wife Victoria knows very little about him. "I always hear Harry's view from his friends. It is...

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