The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
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What are the characteristics of Dorian Gray that lead to his downfall in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Dorian unfortunately falls under the influence of Lord Henry and is susceptible to his flattery. Lord Henry talks about how fleeting beauty and youth are and how beautiful Dorian is. When Dorian sees his portrait, he realizes for the first time, almost without ego and in a detached way, that he is very beautiful. People like Henry have told him this, but he never truly understood or believed it before.

Seeing the picture of himself fills him with an intense longing to stay beautiful. He wants to maintain his youth so badly that he thinks he would sell his soul for it. That gives the devil his...

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miss-elle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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elppa | Student

Ultimately, his flaw was his impressionability. I think it could be interpreted here that Wilde was mocking the Victorian belief at the time that children should remain as innocent as possible and know as little about the cruelties and "evils" of the real world as they can.

Dorian could be seen as a literal manifestation of that sort of upbringing, and because he was so naive in the beginning and remained so impressionable, it was easy for him to become narcissistic and vain without any full realization of his actions. Because he was so "innocent", it was that much easier for him be swallowed up by evil and insanity.

Even in the end, I don't think Dorian ever became as cynical as Lord Henry. (it's a while since I read the book though) He was still just as impressionable, corrupted as he was. Everything he became was born from outside influences, never really from himself. Narcissism and selfishness were sort of byproducts.

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