What is the overall theme in the story The Picture of Dorian Gray?

One could argue that the overall theme in the story The Picture of Dorian Gray is that a life of pleasure is no substitute for morality. Yet that's what Dorian, under the baleful influence of Lord Henry Wooton, comes to believe. In his efforts to lead a life of constant pleasure, he ends up falling into self-indulgence and debauchery.

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Dorian makes the fateful decision to aestheticize his existence, to turn his life into a work of art—and all in pursuit of a constant stream of pleasurable experiences. Strongly influenced by the amoral life philosophy of the louche aristocrat Lord Henry Wooton, Dorian comes to believe that pleasure isn't everything; it's the only thing.

As Dorian has devoted himself to making his life one long work of art, he is no longer interested in what is morally right. All he cares about is achieving an endless series of aesthetic pleasures, however they may be acquired. This attitude inevitably puts him at odds with any system of morals worthy of the name. As all that matters to Dorian is his own pleasure, other people are just objects to be cynically manipulated to serve his ends. Pleasure is what counts, not people. They are merely instruments of what really matters in life.

Almost inevitably, Dorian soon falls into a life of self-indulgent debauchery in his never-ending quest for the latest...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 829 words.)

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