The Picture of Dorian Gray
How we cite our quotes:
"To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. Youth! There is nothing like it. It's absurd to talk of the ignorance of youth. The only people to whose opinions I listen now with any respect are people much younger than myself. They seem in front of me. Life has revealed to them her latest wonder. As for the aged, I always contradict the aged. I do it on principle. If you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday, they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore high stocks, believed in everything, and knew absolutely nothing." (19.9)
Even to the end, Lord Henry continues to extol the virtues of youth – but we know from Dorian's experience that it's not all it's cut out to be. While we, like him, were somewhat swayed by the seductive idea of eternal youth in the beginning, we can now see through Lord Henry's creed – it's actually a foolish wish.
"Then he loathed his own beauty, and flinging the mirror on the floor, crushed it into silver splinters beneath his heel. It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed for. But for those two things, his life might have been free from stain. His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him." (20.5)
Ah – finally, Dorian realizes that his insatiable desire for eternal youth is a foolish one. After all, his youth was just an illusion, and he used it for evil, time and time again.