Why does Dorian Gray kill Basil?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a reflection of the self- serving and Hedonistic lifestyle that Dorian Gray adopts, murder for one's own benefit is seen as something out of utility.  It is for this reason that Dorian Gray kills Basil.  Dorian ends up killing Basil because of his curiosity about Dorian's life.  Basil recognizes that the unity of body and soul, something that he had desired to bring through his own art, is reflected in the painting.  The unity of both means that the painting reflects the depravity within Dorian Gray.  When Dorian sees this, he recognizes that the consequence to his own self- serving ways is represented in the painting.  He also fully grasps the implications of it in that Basil knows the real truth about Dorian.  At the moment of Dorian seeing the painting, he understands that his entire world will collapse if Basil divulges what he knows and it is for this reason that he feels murdering Basil is the only plausible solution.  In doing so, Dorian's depravity reaches a particular point where there is little chance of redemption or little chance of saving his own soul.  It is also a reflection of how the self- serving philosophy of Hedonism is a shallow one, a pursuit that brings forth the end of all bonds between human beings in the process.


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