Whose at fault for Dorian's moral decay?

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

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While Oscar Wilde does bring out a level of complexity to his predicament, I think that Wilde lays most of the blame for the moral decay of Dorian Gray on Dorian Gray.  It is true that his introduction and induction into the hedonistic life is facilitated by Wotton, but the moral depravity that results from it is entirely on Dorian Gray.  Wilde constructs a characterization of Gray as one who lacks any depth or remorse to what it is is he does.  The lack of emotional sensitivity towards others' pain, luring friends into terribly shallow situations, and even murder are all a result of Dorian's own self- serving nature and embrace of a lifestyle that has little regard for others' needs.  In this, Wilde makes it evident that Dorian's moral decay is his own doing.  The recognition of the portrait's disfiguring and Dorian's desire to destroy it represents that Dorian understands his own moral decay and the need to take action about it.  I think that Wilde develops the character of Dorian Gray in making it so that he is the one responsible for his own moral depravity and decay.