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In the Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde portrays through the painting the contrast between seeing life as a piece of art, where a person is completely detached, or embracing the ugliness of life, which includes selfishness, vanity, and degeneration.

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Introduction

Embracing the Ugly with the Beauty The Picture of Dorian Gray argues the idea of life. Lord Henry explains to Dorian that he should be an observer of life, like a work of art. On one hand, Dorian must fully experience life but also must be detached from it like a spectator. Lord Henry makes it seem that this detachment is essential to him avoiding the pain of the life. The other idea of life represented in the story is to fully accept life for what it is and recognize the ugliness of sin. Dorian's innocent mind is corrupted by the influence of Lord Henry and this influence leads to a long downward spiral for Dorian throughout the book. Dorian contemplates both aspects of living life and by the end, finally figures out the reality of life. In the Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde portrays through the painting the contrast between seeing life as a piece of art, where a person is completely detached, or embracing the ugliness of life, which includes selfishness, vanity, and degeneration. Lord Henry raises the idea of experiencing life as a person would a piece of art. ...read more.

Middle

Finally by the end of the story, Dorian decides to destroy the painting with the very tool he used to kill Basil. "Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage" (Wilde 188). Interestingly when Dorian stabs the painting he really is killing himself because the painting is his conscience and his true self. In the end the painting turns back to its original self, and Dorian ends up dead an old man who has the strains of living an immoral life all over his face. Many of Dorian's attitudes lead to his demise as a moral character and the first characteristic was his selfishness. Throughout the book, Dorian exemplified the attitude of he is the only one that matters. The utmost example of this idea of selfishness is when Dorian decides he is no longer in love with Sibyl because of her bad acting. "You have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don't even stir my curiosity" (Wilde 75). Dorian only loved Sibyl as a piece of art and once that was gone, Dorian wanted nothing to do with her. ...read more.

Conclusion

The novel proves the notion of detaching oneself from his conscience to be impossible and that degeneration is bound to happen to everyone. Living life as if it were a piece of art seems ideal because it would be impossible for a person to get hurt by love or be responsible for his actions. But as a reader can see in The Picture of Dorian Gray, this lifestyle is not a reality. Every person is born with a conscience and there is no way of getting rid or ignoring it. Dorian tried to ignore his conscience, and it led to his eventual suicide. The ugliness of life may seem like something a person wouldn't want to live with but in life, there is even more beauty. In order to fully experience life, a person must embrace the good and the bad because in the end, the person will experience true joy. Selfishness, vanity, and degeneration are facts of life, and a person will always experience them. Becoming detached from reality is not advisable because the person misses out on everything great in the world like love, friendship, and thoughtfulness. Lord Henry emphasizes living life for the beauty of art but that is just unrealistic because it is impossible to live and not experience the ugly with the beauty. ...read more.

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