The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray Morality and Ethics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Society -- civilized society, at least -- is never very ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating. It feels instinctively that manners are of more importance than morals, and, in its opinion, the highest respectability is of much less value than the possession of a good chef. (11.31)
Society, we see, is just as hypocritical as Dorian himself; though it prides itself on its morality, that very same morality falls to pieces in the face of wealth and status. This is Wilde's commentary on the inconsistent judgments of high society – one of the main rules of "civilized" people is that the wealthy and powerful never really suffer from scandal.
"To cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul!" How the words rang in his ears! His soul, certainly, was sick to death. Was it true that the senses could cure it? Innocent blood had been spilled. What could atone for that? Ah! for that there was no atonement; but though forgiveness was impossible, forgetfulness was possible still, and he was determined to forget, to stamp the thing out, to crush it as one would crush the adder that had stung one. (16.4)
At this point, Dorian has given up any hope of redemption – he has enough of a sense of morality to know when he has broken the rules, but he doesn't think there's any way to balance the scales of right and wrong again. The best he can do is try to forget his crimes.