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A Good Man Is Hard To Find

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Novel Analysis

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde. The genre of this novel can be classified as a comedy of manners or a gothic novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in 1890 in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. Another version with an additional six chapters was published in 1891. One of the major themes in the novel was the Supremacy of Beauty and Youth. A very attractive man has a portrait painted of himself, and after being warned of the mortality of his youth the man, Dorian, trades his soul to remain young while his portrait bears the markings of his age and evil deeds. Dorian becomes increasingly evil throughout

the novel, while constantly being encouraged by Lord Henry Wotton. Eventually Dorian can no longer bear the person he sees in his portrait so he tries to destroy the painting but ultimately he destroys himself.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the characters are predominantly aristocratic males. The main character is Dorian Gray, a wealthy young man who is both a handsome

and a very impressionable young man. Basil Hallward is an artist who was obsessed with Dorian, naming him his muse and source of inspiration. Lord Henry Wotton is a friend of Basil Hallward who makes young Dorian his protйgй, teaching him his philosophy of "new Hedonism." Sibyl Vane was a young actress who caught the eye of Dorian during one of her performances, after being spurned by Dorian she is heartbroken and commits suicide. James Vane is the brother of Sibyl Vane. He did not approve of Dorian from the start, so he wanted to murder Dorian to avenge the death of his sister.

The setting of The Picture of Dorian Gray is London, England. The story takes place from the years 1890 to 1908.

In the years between 1890 and 1908, Dorian succumbs to the influence of Lord Henry Wotton. Because of this, Dorian disregards morality and follows Wotton's "new Hedonistic" philosophy. Dorian became a very loathsome man on the inside while still remaining young and beautiful on the outside.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, there were quite a few symbols. Three of these symbols were opium dens, James Vane, and the yellow book. The opium dens represent Dorian Gray's state of mind. He uses the opium to try to forget his actions, just as he tries to rationalize these actions so he can ignore his conscience. James Vane represents Dorian

Gray's conscience. When Dorian sees James he is forced to accept the sins he had committed through the years. The yellow book represents how art can have a profound and horrible influence over a person. Dorian followed the yellow book as if it were his bible. Allowing him to be completely influenced by it. All of these symbols are recurring symbols in the novel.

Dorian Gray meets artist Basil Hallward in his aunt's, Lady Brandon, estate. Basil was immediately inspired by the striking beauty of young Dorian Gray. Basil has Dorian sit for many portraits, quite a few of which depicted him as a hero from ancient Greece or a mythological figure. At the beginning of the novel Basil is finishing a portrait of Dorian in his true likeness. Basil shares with his friend, Lord Henry Wotton, his reluctance to show his painting because he was worried he had revealed too much about the way he felt for Dorian in painting it. Lord Wotton was known for causing scandals by his irreverent worshipping of youth and beauty and his selfish pursuit of pleasure. Lord Wotton, in true character, tells Basil that the portrait is his greatest masterpiece, admiring the beauty of the young man in portrayed in the painting. While Lord Wotton and Basil were discussing the painting, Dorian arrived at Basil's studio. Basil did not want Dorian to meet Lord Henry Wotton because he was afraid the Lord Wotton would have a negative influence on Dorian.

As soon as Lord Wotton met Dorian he had already began to influence him. It was at this meeting that Lord Wotton gives his speech about how important beauty is and how quickly it fades. Dorian was so upset about losing his youth that he trades his soul for eternal physical beauty. Dorian would remain attractive while his portrait would bear the marks of his misdeeds and years. In order to make Dorian happy, Basil allowed him to keep the portrait that he had painted.

Over the few weeks to come, Lord Henry's influence over Dorian steadily increased. Lord Henry shares his philosophy on "new Hedonism" and Dorian quickly becomes a follower of it. After starting his new life devoted to self pleasure Dorian falls in love with an actress named Sibyl Vane. She was an actress at a theatre in the slums of London that Dorian happened to wander into. Dorian loved her acting ability while she loved Dorian for the man she thought he was. She referred to him as "Prince Charming" because that's what she thought he was. The two became engaged but Dorian cruelly broke the engagement when Sibyl told him she could no longer act out feelings of love on stage now that she had experienced them for herself. She was quitting her career. Dorian realized he loved her acting ability not her and told her he wanted nothing else to do with

her. When Dorian got home and looked at his portrait. He noticed something very strange. His likeness in the portrait had changed. There was now a sneer on its face.

Dorian was horrified at this discovery, so he decided that he would make things right with Sibyl in the morning. Dorian slept in that night and when he awoke Lord Henry was there to deliver the news of Sibyl's suicide. She was so devastated that she ended her life. Instead of Dorian feeling any immediate remorse for her death Lord Henry talks him into believing that it was not a sad event but rather she had personified tragedy. That she had just played the ultimate acting role in dying for love. It was her final artistic triumph



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