The Picture Of Dorian Gray is yet another novel portraying evil.
The theme is very much reflected by the book's setting, plot structure
and characterisation. It shows how individuals can slowly deteriorate
because of the evil lying within themselves. The evil of this book is
the evil created by one's self and thrusted upon one's self. The power
of greed and selfishness take over Dorian Gray and create an ugly evil
side to him.
The mid eighteenth century was a very influential era, specially in
England. This period judged much upon appearance and status. Dorian was
a very wealthy, intelligent man with a very high status. He knew the
very influential and rich people in his town as well. His beauty charmed
the world. Basil was inspired to draw his portrait in order to preserve
his beauty and youth. Dorian recognised that as long as he remained
young he would be handsome. He dreaded the day that he would age
slightly and start to form wrinkles and such ugly (in Dorian's opinion)
ugly things. He believed that that day would deprive him of triumphs
that would result in him being miserable.
The degree of evil within Dorian increases as the plot develops.
By trading his soul for his youth, Dorian rids of the good inside of
himself. The plot proves to us that evil does actually lie within an
individual. From the moment that he becomes forever young he begins to
deteriorate. Even once he reached his epiphany and saw his evil through
the portrait he simply denied seeing it and continued his malicious
The characterisation of the book is one of the most important
elements of this book. Dorian begins by being a very naïve lad. He is
very easily influenced by others especially his two new good friends;
Basil and Lord Henry. Basil, the painter of the portrait, influenced
Dorian in more of a good, honest way. While Lord Henry, although not
being evil himself, gave him a more evil insight on life. Both of them
changed his life forever. How little they both knew what went on inside
Basil does not have any real direct influence on the youngster;
without him the lad would have never been caught in his evil destiny.
Basil was an inspired artist when he first met Dorian. He admitted that
his picture of Dorian was the best picture he ever painted. To him it
was more than a painting, it was as if he created another life. He put
himself into it. He did not know that he was creating his own murder
when he made the painting. He was always a good friend to Dorian. When
Dorian talked about ageing being such a dreadful thing, something worth
killing yourself for, Basil tried to calm him down.
At the same time, Lord Henry was more of a directly harmful
influence on Dorian. Within the couple of minutes in which he lectured
Dorian about youth and living, he developed a whole other side to him.
He had such a big cynical impact on Dorian and yet he did not realise it.
It was because of him that Mr. Dorian Gray decided that he would like to
remain young and exquisite. He is also the one who brings out Dorian's
first bad deed with Sibyl Vane.
With a multitude of different influences around Dorian Gray, he is
still the one to blame for all his wrong doings. His character is a
tragic one, much like Macbeth's. His flaw was excessive ambition. Even
once he knew he was doing something wrong he could not control himself.
He even yearned for self reformation but could not make it possible.
He started off as one of the kindest, most modest and innocent men
ever. That all changed once he traded his soul for his youth with the
painting. He entered a life of gradual dissipation. It became easier
and easier for him to sin because he always had a maginot line; that he
does not have a soul. In my opinion that was a poor excuse because his
greediness and selfishness began before he abandoned his soul. His first
act of covetousness was when he craved to be infinitely young. He wanted
to be different, to be superior to others, to have something that the
whole world would be envious of. He believed that to live a simple life
was merely to live at all.
When he first started his life of debauchery his uneasy conscious
made him avoid those he knew. Although once he became regulated to a
life of degradation he no longer cared what others thought of him. This
is one of the biggest ironies of the story; that he no longer cared what
people think of him. He originally wanted to stay young and lovely so
others would recognise his greatness so he may still be able to do
audacious things. His pride of individualism was half of his fascination
The author was very successful in finding the right means to
represent the evil in this book. The different aspects of the book made
this possible. In Dorian's attempt to redeem himself he must terminate
his life. The book ends on more of a good note than a bad; that there is
hope in stopping evil, we just have to have a want for it.