The term ‘beauty’ may have very relative significance. Something can be beautiful for us, but ugly for other people. The external beauty of a person is often the first thing that we pay attention to. This is the result of the association of beauty with good and ugliness with evil. Through the outer appearance we make a general opinion about a given person. Such a way of thinking may be very misleading. In order to get to know the person we need to look to the inside – into the soul. This is the place where the real beauty and ugliness are hidden.
The notion of inner and outer beauty is perfectly presented in the novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. The story described in this book shows how the external attractiveness influences people’s behavior and corrupts the inner beauty. The plot situated in the XIX England perfectly describes the higher class of this period. Shallow and two-faced society is concentrated only on the esthetical values of the surrounding. Youth and beauty are the most precious and cultivated things. Even the worst deeds are forgotten if your beauty is extraordinary. The main character, Dorian Gray is an example of a person from a higher class. This twenty-year old and extremely handsome young man is regarded among society as an ideal of beauty. His Physical attractiveness draws the attention of a very talented painter Basil Hallward. He decides to immortalize Dorian’s beauty and paints his portrait. In the meantime Dorian meets cynical nobleman, Lord Henry Wotton. Just like everyone else, Lord Henry is astonished by the prettiness and innocence of Dorian. Henry is a charming talker, and his views concerning beauty are the same as the views of other members of aristocracy. He cherishes it above all considering it as the most important thing in life. The talk with Lord Henry makes Dorian to think about the elapsing of the physical attractiveness. He realizes that some day his charm and youth will disappear and he will not be able to live a careless life anymore. This thought scares him very much especially when he sees the finished portrait, painted by Basil. He makes a whish, which will change his life forever: ‘If it were I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old! For that I would give anything! Yes, there is nothing in the world I would not give! I would give my soul for that’ (Chapter 2). Dorian i…
…s primeval looks, showing his magnificent outer beauty.
The book is full of allegories and illusions. Even the title has a deeper meaning. The word ‘dorian’ means ‘golden’ in ancient Greek. The linking of two colors: golden and gray perfectly reflects complexity of the main character. Dorian is an example of a Narcissist, a person who is in love with his own look. His glamorous good looks contrasts with the rotten and evil inside. The story shows how shallow people can be while judging others. Another interesting point is the misleading statement that the beauty always comes together with goodness. The painting which serves as a mirror of Dorian’s soul perfectly reflects the inevitably changes in his character, while the beauty of his face is unchanged. No one beliefs in the evil stories about him because of his outstanding outer appearance,’ The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is a timeless story about what is really important in life, namely our inside. Only by knowing our hidden emotions we can really judge whether the person is good or bad.
Varty,A.(1998).A Preface to Oscar Wilde,Longman,NY
Cornish,F.H.;Wilde,Oscar(1993).The Picture of Dorian Gray,Heinemann,Oxford