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UVA Supplemental "Unsettling" Essay: The Picture of Dorian Gray


SilverKnight 15 / 55 4  
Dec 26, 2013   #1
I'm going to say beforehand that this essay needs some serious work, and I am gladly taking any form of criticism.

When I found out that our summer reading assignment was The Picture of Dorian Gray, I expected it to be a fairly simple assignment. I had already seen the black-and-white 1945 movie version and I had been reading pre-1900 texts since seventh grade. However, the story was not at all like I thought it would be. I scanned the pages for something even remotely close to a positive statement, but there was none to be found. That got under my skin a little because the kind of literature I enjoy usually includes some degree of happiness. As I read further, I came to hate, loathe, and despise every character in the story, especially Lord Henry. It seemed like he didn't do anything, except come up with one epigram after another or go on about his principle of hedonism. Then there's good old Dorian Gray, the willing pupil of Lord Henry. Whenever it looks like he will do the right thing, he does the opposite, bringing ruin to the people who really care about him. What bothered me about this is the fact that anyone could be so weak as to allow themselves to become essentially "a face without a heart." On top of that, I can't quite comprehend Oscar Wilde's purpose in writing such a tale. Even after delving into an in-depth analysis of the central themes and motifs, I still don't understand what he was trying to prove. Was it really just to point out that art is useless?
mlozano11 4 / 18 3  
Dec 26, 2013   #2
Is there a prompt you are suppose to be answering to or...?? That would help :). Is this a literary analysis or a vague summary? To me, it sounds like a big rant about a book and presenting a question is certainly not answering another. Include the prompt for further understanding!
OP SilverKnight 15 / 55 4  
Dec 26, 2013   #3
Yeah...I kind of forgot to mention the prompt didn't I? Well, anyway I'm re-writing the entire thing.
OP SilverKnight 15 / 55 4  
Dec 27, 2013   #4
Updated UVA Supplemental "Unsettling" Essay: The Picture of Dorian Gray

I posted my original version earlier, but I completely re-wrote it.

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (I didn't forget this time!)

To me, The Picture of Dorian Gray was a highly unsettling piece of literature. It wasn't at all like I imagined it would be; a dark tragedy full of vile, self-destructive deeds. However, my primary conflict with the book came when I began to grasp its themes of hedonism and materialism. It was inevitable. On just about every single page I would run into something that dealt with these negative ideologies. This presented a major problem for me because I have always been an idealistic optimist who strives to see the positive side in everything. However, as I continued to flip through the pages of Oscar Wilde's creation, I found very little in the way of positivity. The result; I came to hate, loathe, and despise just about every character presented in the book, especially Lord Henry. It seemed like all he would do is sit around and wait for the perfect opportunity to blurt out his latest epigram. In fact, one of the most unsettling things in this book came from him. At one point, Lord Henry states that "it is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place." Being a religious person, I contemplated the sentence. What a world without sin or the possibility of sinning be like? The answer was simple. I didn't want to know. Still, I was glad I read this book because it challenged me to think about things that were outside of my comfort zone.
Kristoria 3 / 51 1  
Dec 27, 2013   #5
I think this was an overall good essay. I think you managed to state exactly in what the book was unsettling for you.


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