Hey everyone, if you haven't read The Picture of Dorian Gray its fine, I just need some basic editing on my essay. My Closing needs quite a bit of work and also the whole thing is supposed to be in present tense. I have quite a bit in past tense but I have trouble changing the whole sentence over so I would greatly appreciate some help. Thanks!The Beauty of the Beast
The concept of how beauty corrupts the soul is explored in depth as a critique on the overvaluing of beauty in society. The Picture of Dorian Gray exemplifies how innocence can be distorted by favoring looks over moral correctness; this is most notably done in Dorian Gray as he transitions from a youthful kindhearted man into one of malevolence, merely imitating beauty. Oscar Wilde illustrates the value of virtue over beauty through the display of sin and corruption as it is painted over the Adonis-like face of Dorian. The absence of visual consequence for his actions is seductive to Dorian as he loses his soul and becomes content with having only his looks; this process of moral decay epitomizes the theme of how beauty corrupts the soul.
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, two of the main characters, Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton, serve as foils to Dorian. Basil is a painter who admires Dorian so much for his beauty that he quite nearly loves him. Lord Henry on the other hand is full of corruption and attempts to twist Dorian's innocence to match his own views, believing that "the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it" (21). Although Basil tries his best to keep Lord Henry and Dorian separate, they eventually meet and become friends, allowing Lord Henry to teach Dorian how he lives his own life and impart such ways upon him. As the novel progresses and the characters evolve we see the two opposing sides that Basil and Lord Henry symbolize; Lord Henry representing the evil of society, while Basil represents the good. This struggle tears Dorian between his two companions and eventually leads him to kill Basil. This example makes it quite evident how beauty corrupts Dorian Gray to kill someone so close to him. Dorian is at first uncaring to his good looks, even remarking "I don't want a life-sized portrait of myself," to Basil during one if his sittings (17). However this sweet boy becomes horrid as his sins reflect on his portrait, with "the eyes of a devil," and described by Basil, who once had the utmost admiration of Dorian, as "worse, even, than those who talk against [him] fancy [him] to be" (161). This dramatic alteration in Dorian's action show that he gives over to the seduction of evil, becoming numb even to the brutal murder of his friend and only describing the body as "the thing" (163). The self indulgent life of Lord Henry in association with the loss of his soul, cause Dorian to excuse his activities as "[Basil's] murder [being] simply the madness of a moment. As for Alan Campbell, his suicide had been his own act. He had chosen to do it. It was nothing to [Dorian]" (227). This neglect for emotion and dead sense of compassion truly show how corrupted Dorian has become from his utter regard for beauty. In addition, Dorian Gray's battle between good and evil is even displayed in the symbolism of his last name "Gray," which truly shows the ambiguity of Dorian's morals.
One of the main causes for Dorian's struggle in the novel stems from choosing beauty over intellect. Dorian falls in line with Lord Henry's theory of how intelligence causes people to become ugly and that no one can be both intellectual and attractive. This same process is also prevalent in the London society Dorian associates with. Although the feelings are not as forward as Lord Henry is, people always admire Dorian and find him an intriguing person, chiefly because of his beauty. This overvaluing of beauty in society is one of the main pressures that cause Dorian to embrace his carefree life, as it in no way affects the way he is seen. Although Basil is in fact noble, he was the first to alter Dorian's views by continuously telling him how beautiful he was. The inspiration that Dorian gives Basil allows him to paint the portrait, which is regarded as Hallward's tour de force after which point his paintings only became worse. While conversing with Lord Henry, Basil evens states that he "couldn't be happy if [he] didn't see [Dorian] every day," which very evidently shows the how strongly Dorian's beauty served as a muse to Basil. Yet, this artistic arousal is the first step in Dorian's corruption and ultimately leads him to lose all innocence and decency. Thus, Oscar Wilde critiques this overvaluing of beauty in society by showing its affects on people, specifically Dorian, and the way in which it ruins them.
In the novel, the influences of Basil Hallward, Lord Henry, and society's perception of beauty, all serve as catalysts for the changes Dorian goes through in his evolution of evil. However one of the biggest influences on Dorian, as well as Wilde's overall theme of the novel, is Sybil Vane. Dorian falls in love with her merely from the part that she plays rather than her true self, which symbolizes the priority of the outward view rather than then inner and true self. She continuously plays the part of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, which not only foreshadows the events of her death, but also serves along with her nickname for Dorian as Prince Charming, to show the shallow romanticism on their relationship. It is shown to be quite unrealistic, full of what they see when they look at each other rather than true feelings for one another. Sybil's last name being "Vane" also serves as symbolism to show how narcissistic she is in order to display her driving force as beauty above all else. When Sybil eventually confesses her love for Dorian, she can no longer act as "acting was the one reality of [her] life," which no longer exists due to the fact that she now has Dorian (90). This revelation kills Dorian's love for her, as she is no longer a romantic notion and in fact causes Dorian to find her immensely pathetic. This loss of love causes Dorian to act out in his first rage of sin and cruelty and causes the painting of himself to change for the first time. As such, the portrait continues to become covered in Dorian Gray's sins. This corruption of Dorian's soul also causes the painting to decay as it becomes ugly with all of his injustices. This portrait very literally shows how beauty in fact corrupts the soul.
Oscar Wilde shows how Dorian loses all regard for the well-being of his soul and recenters his focus on his beauty. Although the portrait of his soul becomes ugly with the truth of his actions, Dorian remains uncaring as his soul has in fact been corrupted by his own beauty. The process by which Dorian loses his innocence shows how truly horrid he becomes, and is even so awful that Dorian stabs the portrait as he can no longer stand to see the reality of his actions. The Picture of Dorian Gray's critique on beauty in society clearly displays the strong impact beauty has on corrupting the soul.