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In The Picture of Dorian Gray, there are evident mythic elements of the Faust legend, retold by Goethe in the early 19th century.

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Introduction

Essay on Dorian Gray : the Faust theme Oscar Wilde used to fill his novels with a number of direct and indirect allusions to the literary culture of his time. In "The Picture of Dorian Gray", there are evident mythic elements of the Faust legend, retold by Goethe in the early 19th century. Indeed, a lot of similarities can be found between Dorian and the character of Faust. Dorian can be considered as a Faustian figure because, in a way, he sells his soul to the devil in order to gain eternal youth, whereas Faust sells his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for knowledge, power but also youth. Faust and Dorian also each seduce a young woman and manipulate her, then lead her to her death. Nevertheless, Faust redeems himself whereas Dorian, although if he makes half-hearthed attempts to reform, he ultimately fails to redeem himself. Morever, it seems evident that Lord Henry is the one playing the devil's part in the novel by perverting Dorian's mind. ...read more.

Middle

There's also another reference to the Faustian myth, when the woman at the opium den says "Prince Charming sold himself to the devil for a pretty face". Like Faust, Dorian seduces a young woman and leads her to her death. He falls in love (or think he does) with an actress called Sibyl Vane. This girl is blind in her innocence, like Dorian used to be before the arrival of Lord Henry in his life. She is, like Dorian, beautiful and talented because she is innocent, unconscious of love and its vanity. But when Dorian steps into her life, she becomes totally different, and her self-consciousness ruins her talent, whereupon Dorian loses all interest in her. The Faust legend raises the question of eternal damnation due to the unforgivable sin of despair. Certainly, it's a sin for the Faustian character to make a pact with the devil. However, he has a chance to espace, even at the end of his life, if he repents and asks for God's forgiveness. ...read more.

Conclusion

Lord Henry changes Dorian view of life by pushing him to detach himself from tragic events like Sibyl's suicide. Even if Lord Henry's role in Dorian's downfall is not explicitly defined, we can affirm that Lord Henry is aware of his demonic role because we see in the novel how he enjoys controlling people and playing with their minds. Finally, I think that we can clearly say that Lord Henry plays the role of Mephistopheles in the story by starting to blacken Dorian's soul. Under Lord Henry's influence, Dorian becomes self conscious of his own beauty, discovers the sense of vanity and looses his innocence. His self consciousness and the wish it leads to will spoil his soul by pushing him unconsciously into the error of an unforgivable sin : despair. We see how determined Dorian is to dedicate his entire soul to sin if it is to accomplish his wish of keeping eternally young. The Faust legend raises the question of eternal damnation due to the unforgivable sin of despair : this is where Faust gets redemption whereas Dorian ultimately fails to redeem himself. ...read more.

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