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How Does Oscar Wilde Create A Corrupt Society Essay

In the year of 1980, Oscar Wilde published his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, before he reached his height of fame. The first edition of his book appeared in the summer edition of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Although, many criticized the novel as being scandalous and immoral. Wilde, being disappointed with its outcome, revised the novel in 1891, adding a preface and six new chapters. One of the main themes throughout this book would be the purpose of art, Wilde believed art did not serve any other purpose than being beautiful.

He adopted this attitude from old Victorian England, where the most popular belief stated that art was not only a figure of morality but also had the means of enforcing it. In addition, two other contributing themes of the book would be superficial nature of society and the negative consequences on influence. In the book, Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray believe that it is more important for a man to have good looks instead of a good heart and personality. Also, the painting and yellow book given to Dorian affected him deeply, these items influenced him to commit predominantly immoral behavior for nearly two decades.

The fundamental aspects of this book can relate to a lot of things that occur within today’s society, such as influencing others to make the wrong decisions, along with believing that looks are more important than someone’s personality. The well know artist, Basil Hallward, meets Dorian Gray at one his aunt’s parties at her lovely estate in London. Dorian is a wealthy, beautiful young man who immediately grasps the heart of Basil’s artistic imagination. As the two become acquainted, Basil begins painting portraits of Dorian, he often refers to

Dorian as an ancient Greek God or mythological figure. In the beginning of the novel, Basil is finishing his first portrait of Dorian, idealizing the perfect features of the young and handsome Dorian Gray, which he reveals the painting to be disappointing because it exhibits too much of his feelings towards his subject. Basil admits this to his friend, Lord Henry. Henry is a famous wit who expresses himself through Hedonism, the purpose to life a live dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. However, Henry tells Basil that the portrait is Basil’s masterpiece.

And, of course, Lord Henry requests to meet the more than perfect Dorian Gray, as Basil describes him. Although, Basil insists that he and Dorian do not meet because he is afraid Henry will corrupt Dorian of his innocence. At the moment Dorian and Lord Henry meet, Basil can already sense that Dorian has changed into a different person by the influence of Lord Henry. By the end of that day, Henry has upset Dorian with a speech about the nature of beauty and youth. Therefore, Dorian begins to worry that his draw-dropping looks will begin to fade day by day.

Towards the end of the novel, Dorian begins to view his painting as wizened and hideous. Basil had been hearing awful rumors about Dorian for weeks and had finally decided to confront him about the rumors that had been ruining his name. However, Dorian and Basil have a disastrous argument that ends with Dorian killing Basil in a fit of outrage. Dorian begins making final attempts to mend his life back together but cannot own up to his crimes, and the painting now reveals his desire for repentance.

As Dorian becomes enraged by the painting, he picks up the knife he used to stab Basil and stabs himself through his heart, instantly killing him. My favorite character from the book would be Basil because he was not anything like Dorian Gray or Lord Henry. Basil cared for people because of who they are and not for what their looks may be. He felt compassion towards the true meanings in life, not the corrupt ones everyone else want’s you to believe.

I feel as if the author achieved his goal of the book, by showing the eaders how corrupt society can be, just as Oscar Wilde stated in the preface “those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope” (Wilde, 9). Wilde’s most important points of the book were that one must not influence others to commit tasks of wrongdoing, and to be a person who is materialistic and only cares about their appearance rather than how they treat others.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, is one of the best books I have ever read because it gave more of an insightful meaning about things such as the superficial nature of society. By that, I mean it should not matter how someone looks, people should always respect and encourage one another. Also, people must not take advantage of others because that is showing others that it is okay to do those things when in reality it is not.

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