The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
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Explain the relationship between Lord Henry, Dorian and Basil. Discuss also the impact of Lord Henry on Dorian.

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The society of Oscar Wilde's narrative is one that supports the facade rather than the reality as each of the three characters of The Picture of Dorian Gray exhibits a certain illusion about himself. Before the narrative begins, the artist Basil has attended a party as he knows that he must circulate in society in order to profit from his painting; while he is at one party, Basil sees Dorian Gray, and is immediately taken by the beauty of this Adonis. Since the beautiful, the aesthetic, is essential to Basil, he asks to paint Dorian's portrait. But, afterwards, he realizes that he has revealed too much of himself in his painting and tries to hide it from the cynical Lord Henry.

Certainly, the antagonist of the novel, Lord Henry Wotton exploits Dorian's desire to retain his youth. Lord Henry is representative of Walter Pater, whom Oscar Wilde admired.

Pater emphasized the fleeting nature of life and argued that the most important thing was to relish the exquisite sensations life brings, especially those stimulated by a work of art. The aim was to be fully present and to live vividly in each passing moment.

While Lord Henry would like to live a hedonistic life himself, he does not wish to relinquish his position in society. So, he corrupts Dorian instead, who wishes to retain his beauty, instructing him, "Sin is the only real colour element left in modern life." Lord Henry, thus, exploits Dorian's vanity and self-indulgence for his own vicarious pleasure, acting as Dorian's inspiration:

Yes; he would try to be to Dorian Gray what, without knowing it, the lad was to the painter who had fashioned the wonderful portrait.  

And, yet, he envies Dorian....

(The entire section contains 598 words.)

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