The Picture of Dorian Gray
How we cite our quotes:
Mind you, I don't believe these rumours at all. At least, I can't believe them when I see you. Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People talk sometimes of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even. (12.8)
Yet again, Dorian's appearance of youthful innocence keeps him out of trouble with gullible Basil – the painter can't conceive of a world in which people's sins aren't plain to see on their faces. Dorian's continuing outer beauty convinces him of his friend's continuing inner beauty.
"Ah, my dear," cried Lady Narborough, putting on her gloves, "don't tell me that you have exhausted life. When a man says that one knows that life has exhausted him. Lord Henry is very wicked, and I sometimes wish that I had been; but you are made to be good -- you look so good." (15.11)
This is kind of an old story by now – but here again, someone else (this time his friend, Lady Narborough), comments on how Dorian must be good and innocent, simply because of his good looks.
Was it really true that one could never change? He felt a wild longing for the unstained purity of his boyhood -- his rose-white boyhood, as Lord Henry had once called it. He knew that he had tarnished himself, filled his mind with corruption and given horror to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others, and had experienced a terrible joy in being so; and that of the lives that had crossed his own, it had been the fairest and the most full of promise that he had brought to shame. But was it all irretrievable? Was there no hope for him? (20.3)
In his moment of crisis, Dorian looks back on his long-gone days of innocence – he finally comes to terms with the havoc he's wreaked on the lives of others. But is this enough to save him? Can we ever erase the stains of sin from our souls?