Innocence may be easily corrupted by a malignant outside influence. The novel The Picture of Dorian Gray shows that corruption and bad influence may be easy to pursue. Author Oscar Wilde attempts to highlight that corruption may not come in the form of materials, but also in the forms of friends, society, etc. Dorian’s youth is easily corrupted by the influence of not only Lord Henry but also by the society and the substances which he chooses to use and abuse now and then. The corruption takes a toll on Dorian’s behavior significantly, and the readers notice that it ultimately leads to his demise. In this novel, we see the corruption of Dorian’s unscathed innocence and his beauty by various outside sources.
Dorian first meets Basil, who values Dorian’s beauty so much that he is Basil’s muse for art, his way of living. Basil wants to cherish Dorian forever, and wants to keep him all for himself. Additionally, at first, he cherishes Dorian’s beauty more than he does his personality. As an artist, Basil is completely enamored by Dorian’s beauty, and he says, “what the invention of oil-painting was to the Venetians, the face of Antinous was to late Greek sculpture, and the face of Dorian Gray will some day be to me” (Wilde 12). Dorian’s beauty is greatly appreciated by Basil, and he is the one who makes Dorian realize his beauty and charms.
Henry, being a part of the Victorian Society, values beauty too much. To him, beauty acts a sensory pleasure. Henry’s strong views and preference towards beauty greatly influence Dorian throughout the novel. About his friendships and enmities, Henry mentions that he “chooses [his] friends for their good looks, acquaintances for their good characters, and enemies for their good intellects” (Wilde …
…ely taking over his mind. Dorian, once very naive, lets Henry’s influence easily fill his mind, and pursues sinful pleasures. He tries to use his beauty to influence others in the same way that Henry influenced him. He feared changing and growing old so badly that rather than going by the natural order of things he chose to go down the wrong path which ended up hurting him more than it did anyone else; and the portrait, in a way, offered him an opportunity to hide his sins. Henry was smart enough to hide his sins from the society, and he secretly manipulates Dorian– the corruption ultimately blinds Dorian and it eventually leads to his own death.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1908. Google Play Books. Web.March 2013.