The Picture of Dorian Gray
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|19th-Century Literature||19th-Century British Literature|
|Author||Wilde - Oscar Wilde|
|British Literature||19th-Century British Literature|
Coming of Age
Morality and Ethics
Freaky. So why is Lord Henry so dead-set on corrupting
Dorian? Let's dig a little deeper...
One possibility is that Lord Henry just loves to manipulate weak and impressionable people.
He draws Dorian in...like a moth to a flame. Lord Henry explains that youth and beauty
won't last and all he should worry about is enjoying himself. Dorian eats it up. Except
the vegetables, of course. He gives Dorian a mysterious book, and Dorian
does each and every pleasure-seeking thing the pages tell him to do.
The problem is, the more pleasure he finds, the meaner he gets.
Which brings us to a second possibility. Is Lord Henry really just jealous?
Dorian Gray is gorgeous. A total heartthrob. He's kind of like this guy...
And as he follows Lord Henry's influence, Dorian proceeds to eliminate every good thing
in his life. Love. Dorian drives his girlfriend to suicide.
Friendship. Dorian murders his friend Basil. Himself. Dorian loses his innocence.
Leaving him very much like ... guess who? In an attempt to keep his good looks, Dorian
makes a wish for his Portrait to age instead of him. The wish comes true, but with a twist.
His painting ages from debauchery rather than time. And it has become one "Ugly" face.
When Dorian finally goes to destroy the painting, he winds up killing himself.
Another possibility - is Lord Henry the devil in human form?
When Basil tells Henry that he's painted Dorian's soul, little horns pop up from Henry's head.
Well...not literally. Dorian makes his wish and the painting grants
it. Or was it Lord Henry who granted the wish?
Afterward, Dorian does everything Lord Henry tells him to do...at a heavy cost, of course.
Does Lord Henry now own his soul?
Henry is definitely a villain, to the core. But which kind? Manipulative? Jealous? Or
the Devil himself? Shmoop Amongst Yourselves.