Manipulation in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
“I do not think that one person influences another, nor do I think there is any bad influence in the world,” Oscar Wilde uttered when under trial (Hyde 353). Although this statement may be true, one of Wilde’s most famous works shows a great deal of the effects of people shaping one another, causing one to wonder about Wilde’s sincerity in that statement. The Picture of Dorian Gray shows variations on the existence and purposes of influence, displaying two types of personal influence: obvious manipulations such as that of Lord Henry upon Dorian and that of Dorian over Sybil Vane, and those that are more often overlooked such as the more subtle manipulation of Dorian over Basil, of Dorian over Lord Henry, and in the interaction between Dorian and his portrait. Wilde demonstrates the many possible impacts made in these two categories, proving that there is more to a relationship than an outside viewer may perceive, and eventually leading the reader to the unavoidable morbid ending of the book, in which the characters meet their own pathetic ends, with Dorian Gray committing what could be considered a ghastly suicide. Taking into account Wilde?s own life of controversial relationships, this book is especially poignant in its autobiographical suggestions.
Dorian Gray is first described as a naive and attractive young boy, with a striking resemblance to Adonis, having the physical description of a Greek god. The beauty and innocence of youth cause him to be quite attractive, and the fact that he is unaware of the power of this beauty is even more appealing. Dorian?s beauty is the source of Basil Hallward?s obsession, which peaks in the act of Hallward painting Do…
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Spivey, Ted. R. “Oscar Wilde and the Tragedy of Symbolism,” The Journey Beyond Tragedy: A Study of Myth and Modern Fiction. Copyright 1980, Board of Regents of the State of Florida, University Presses of Florida, 1980. Twentieth Century Criticism, Volume 41. Pages 501-2.
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