Oscar Wilde’s ability to create intriguing and complex characters enables the reader to manifest his or herself in the story. He demonstrates this in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by constructing the persona of an impressionable, vain, and alluring man named Dorian Gray. In this particular circumstance, Dorian’s naïve perception of life sets him up for failure. Paralleling this concept, Malcolm X once said, “A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.” (“Malcolm X Quotes”). Expanding upon this, one can be easily swayed in the wrong direction if his or her beliefs and morals aren’t firmly grounded.
In the novel, an artist named Basil Hallward paints a portrait of the striking Dorian Gray. As soon as the masterpiece is completed, Lord Henry Wotton makes an impression on Dorian that detrimentally changes the young man’s life. Wotton makes a comment addressing the fact that the portrait will forever be young and beautiful, while Dorian’s face will be marred and altered by his own sins. Furthermore, Lord Henry influenced Mr. Gray’s love life by belittling women and saying “But adoring someone is certainly better than being adored. Being adored is a nuisance. You'll discover, Dorian, that women treat us just as humanity treats its gods. They worship us and keep bothering us to do something for them.” (Wilde, page 40). The above quote is basically saying that women are inferior and should be treated as such. This mind set ruins his relationship with an actress, Sibyl Vane, when he completely shuts her out because she put her
love for him above her love of acting. His rejection leads her to commit suicide, which Henry later says that he envy’s; he wished a woman would be so foolish as to kill herself for love. Undoubtedly, Dorian becomes the embodiment of Lord Henry’s philosophies of the artistic life.
As Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Flattery is a kind of bad money, to which our vanity gives us currency.” (“Vanity Quotes”). If...