Youth and CorruptionYouth is an important factor in the character development in the Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Dorian is a child and his actions have no negative impact upon his own physical being, unlike the rest of the world. Once Dorian understands his actions have no impact upon his body and his soul takes the brunt of his actions he stops maturing and reverts from a kind, compassionate, and caring person to a child caring only for his own wants and desires. With body and soul separated by the portrait Dorian finds himself free to do as he pleases without consequence. What drives Dorian towards a life of sin? A simple answer is corruption, which is agreed upon by many but the cause is different to Dorian it is art, to Henry it is the person them self, and to Basil believes it is youth. While there are many other potential sources these are the points which stand above the othersBasil’s questioning of Dorian marrying an actress from the slums of London begins to show Basil evolving to a position of the super ego he knows what is right yet is over ruled by the devil on Dorian’s Shoulder, Lord Henry. Both men idolize youth they both make Dorian Gray to be the symbol of youthfulness. Basil is ultimately self-defeating when he presents the portrait Dorian Gray and he begins to idolize the lifestyle of Lord Henry. It is made clear to Dorian that it is Hippocratic to change your ways to appear pure after a lifetime immorality. “Even the cardinal virtues cannot atone for half-cold entrees,” (Wilde). Even though he is warned early of the risks of the lifestyle, Dorian follows in the ways of Lord Henry. A life of hypocrisy is comparable to the aristocratic life Dorian lives he, “can flaunt [his] moral views about [h…
…s not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was (Wilde, 241).” A man of great influence and power is reduced to nothing through a life of corruption and hypocrisy.
There is but one corrupting force, the most fascinating and unpredictable of all, the human mind. Dorian led him self astray by listening to the inputs of the men savor the arts and enjoy youth. Dorian chose to stray from righteous and pious path he was on against the advice of Basil, to follow in the ways of his friend and mentor Lord Henry Wotton. The human mind is capable of amazing things but can easily lead itself astray.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1995. Print.
Terpening, William . “Epicurus (342-270 B.C.E.) and Victorian Aesthetes.” victorianweb. victorianweb, 6 December 2004. Web. 1 Mar 2011.