The Picture of Dorian Gray

What Is In a Name?: Close Reading of Dorian Gray and His Fellow Characters 12th Grade

French author Marcel Proust once stated “Words do not change their meanings so drastically in the course of centuries as, in our minds, names do in the course of a year or two.” What this quote means is that while names merely are words, they hold a whole different meaning. Names, just like a person’s face, can hold their entire identity in just a few letters. They evoke feelings of rage, happiness, love, hatred. Simply put, there is a lot of meaning behind one’s name. Because of this, it is not a surprise that many authors put so much thought into the names of their characters--it gives the first impression of the character. The same can be said for Oscar Wilde, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. In the novel, Dorian Gray makes a deal to remain young and beautiful forever. Instead of his body becoming old, a painting of him becomes more and more grotesque as the young man’s soul becomes corrupted. The novel portrays exactly how much the man’s vanity begins to deform him and the risks that he is willing to take as everything but his appearance begins to change around him. Throughout the piece, Gray makes a number of acquaintances: friends, enemies, and even lovers. For many of these characters, their name is also used as a...

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