• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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.

Extracts from this document...

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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Oscar Wilde section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Oscar Wilde essays

  1. Reread An Extract From Chapter Sixteen, Which Begins, "A Cold Rain Began To Fall, ...

    The foreshadowing of James Vane making an appearance in this chapter (the previously indications of, "A sailor sprawled over a table" and "the black masts of ships.") comes to a front as Dorian leaves the den. James has been hunting Dorian to avenge his sister Sibyl's suicide, in which he blames Dorian for.

  2. In the play 'The Importance of Being Earnest", Oscar Wilde Presents a Society That ...

    the town house is on the 'unfashionable' side of Grosvenor square (at the time a UK gambling Mecca) than that he might have the chance to make her beloved heiress a happy human being. The question that must be asked of her is whether or not this is her true

  1. A Picture Of Dorian Gray - from the Perspective of the Picture. (with commentary)

    Am I not making any sound? Oh my! I don't know if I am making any sound, because I can't hear anything! No no no this is all wrong. I am trapped in a world of silence. Shrouded in an image where all I can hear is my own thoughts!

  2. What Does The Reader Learn About The Three Main Characters In The Opening Chapter ...

    on life, that even though he has talent, for some reason, he can also, "suffer terribly". After revealing the persons name in the portrait, Basil says that he didn't intend to. That he loves secrecy, when he leaves town, he never tells anyone, because if he did, "I would lose all my pleasure".

  1. discuss the ways in which Wilde presents the characters of Jack and Algernon in ...

    Algernon refers to this as 'Bunburying'. This I feel sparks an interesting topic because Wilde is suggesting that people, who fall under the upper-class society, don't really live a pure life and it is made up of lies and maybe even deceit. I feel that the most pivotal moment in the first act, is the arrival of both Lady Bracknell and Gwendolen.

  2. Discuss how Wilde presents the relationship between Dorian and Basil Hallward here and at ...

    which was used against him when he accused in a court of law in the late 1800?s. The controversy it caused landed Wilde in two years of hard labour after the prosecution found the relationship to be of substantial evidence of his homosexuality.

  1. Discuss the Character Of Lord Henry And His Impact On Dorian Gray.

    of the century, where Greek society was bought dramatic political developments and a newly reformed democratic government that revelled in the idea of an individual being able to ?take charge of their own destiny?1 , which is basically the crux of Wotton?s philosophies.

  2. How is the role of love dealt with in "An Ideal Husband"?

    It would be more fitting to call it worship, than love. LADY CHILTERN: ?We women worship when we love, when we lose our worship, we lose everything.? Lady Chiltern is more in love with the idea of an ideal husband rather than her own husband.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work