I need help discussing paradox in The Picture of Dorian Gray, as it is most often used in the words of Lord Henry Wotton.
As a character, Lord Henry Wotton is the pivotal agent that moves the plot forward by transforming Dorian Gray into a dynamic character that will change dramatically throughout the novel.
As Wilde's very own mouthpiece, Wotton is the venting channel through which the author will express his artistic views on life, art, and other important topics in general. This, he does in his unique, signature combination of paradoxes, puns, axioms, and paradigms. A simple way to breakdown and analyze these paradoxes is through categorizing them by topic, and then applying their meaning to the specific situation as they appear in the novel.
One of the salient topics that elicit the use of paradox is pleasure. As a hedonist, Lord Henry's main goal in life is to explore all of life's pleasures without any worries. He actually achieves this! However, since his primary intention is to make Dorian the main pawn of a game of control, Henry used these paradoxes to impress and lure Dorian much like Wilde's own choice of language lures and impresses his audience.
However, Wotton's desire to seek pleasure goes from interesting to down right cruel. When Sybil Vane kills herself after Dorian breaks up with her quite callously Henry views this as a romantic life experience rather than a true tragedy. His egocentric behavior is such that, to him, his want for pleasure is more important than acknowledging the death of a young woman.
What is it that has really happened? Someone has killed herself who loved you. I wish I had had such an experience. The women who have admired me, and there have been some, have always insisted on living long after I've ceased to care for them or them for me.
An important consideration with Lord Henry's hedonism is that it is not meant to be a punishable thing; Lord Henry never changes in the novel, which entails that his life of pleasure has no consequences. He is allowed to carry on with his behaviors, presumably, until the end of his life, unlike Dorian who encounters his death as a result. Hence, his behaviors towards pleasure are piqued by the fact that he knows deep inside that he can get away with anything.
I like persons better than principles and persons with no principles better than anything at all.
So sure is Lord Henry of himself, that he does not mind criticizing others for their righteous behaviors while bragging about his bad choices. He even laughs at overly-sanctimonious Victorian women in general-including his own wife- and jokes about the tendency of women to want to be sensible. He compares their sensibility to the tendency of men to follow instincts...and he places men at a higher level precisely for that reason.
I'm analyzing women at present. The subject is less difficult than I was led to believe. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.
Lord Henry embodies Wilde's paradoxical views on morality and important topics in general. The use of language is Wilde's best literary technique. Always separate these paradoxes by topic and notice how much easier to appreciate and understand they actually are.