The Character of Lord Henry Wotten of The Picture of Dorian Gray The purpose of this essay is to explore the character of Lord Henry Wotten, from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
Oscar Wilde once said:
I only know that Dorian Gray is a classic and deservedly.
With this in mind, this essay is aimed at looking at how Lord Henry Wotton manipulates various conversations and how he effects the story with his challenging speeches, which is the reason The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic. Henry is such a memorable, cleverly developed character, that his influence on the text elevates the novel’s value.
In the conversations of Lord Henry Wotton and the behaviour of Dorian Gray [Wilde shows that] …. self-expression can be turned into an art. – Acroyd.
Lord Henry’s conversations are used to introduce humour and intelligence to a tragic story. Lord Henry has a cynical view of the opposite sex, and also to marriage or any form of relationship which involves both genders. Henry says:
Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.
Henry here is humorously analyzing marriage, and summing it up in one sentence, which is typical of his conversation. He says things quickly and sharply so the story can move on with humour arising from the conversation. In this example Henry is giving quite a bleak outlook on marriage. This theme is explored further when he says:
Young men want to be faithful, and are not, old men want to be faithless, and cannot.
In this example, Henry explores the driving force between the nature of old and young men, and how they relate to the opposite sex. He uses irony to demonstrate his knowledge of how males relate t…
… parallel, as Henry’s influence on Dorian Gray is evident, but Dorian Gray doesn’t affect Henry’s character at all.
The reader also gets a contrast with Basil’s relationship to Henry. Basil appears to ignore the humorous speeches that Henry gives by dismissing them as being “not serious” in nature. Because of this, Henry doesn’t effect Basil in a negative way, as he does Dorian. Dorian appears to hang on every word that Henry gives, whereas Basil practically ignores what Henry says.
Lord Henry’s influence in the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is that is gives a meaningful, ethical story a further contextual layer. Dorian Gray is a superb story, but the character of Lord Henry Wotton is what elevates the novel to its classic status.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray; For Love of the King. London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press, 1993.