Word count - 556 Philosophies Affecting Character Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray delves into the thoughts and philosophies of two nineteenth century London socialites, Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray. The two characters vary greatly in personality, Dorian most often learning and Lord Henry teaching. They share conversations about abstract, thought provoking subjects and are constantly developing opinions. In The Picture of Dorian Gray the reader is most often exploring Dorian's life, what Dorian thinks of his life, or what Lord Henry thinks of Dorian's life. Dorian Gray's character is greatly influenced by the philosophies of Lord Henry.
The first time Lord Henry and Dorian meet, while Dorian was sitting for Basil, Lord Henry sparks something in Dorian, a craving and a fire. He tells Dorian that "the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it."ÃÂ (pg.26) This off the wall philosophy of Lord Henry's seemed to change Dorian.
He yielded to the temptation to be always young and beautiful and once that marred his portrait, he continued to yield to temptation. At one point in the novel, even the effects of his temptation did not phase him. This philosophy of Lord Henry's tempted Dorian into a path he might otherwise not have followed.
Also the first time the two meet in Basil's studio, Lord Henry advises Dorian that he should not sit in the sun and get sunburned. When Dorian asks why, Lord Henry tells him, "Because you have the most marvellous youth, and youth is the one thing worth having."ÃÂ (pg.30) This starts Dorian's obsession with youthfulness, and his wish for a beauty that never fades, just as genius never fades. Lord Henry, holding the gift of beauty up so high, gives Dorian a new perspective on it. He wishes never to loose that gift that is so paramount in his life; he would now give his soul to keep his beauty.
After Sibyl Vane kills herself over the grief Dorian causes her, Lord Henry goes to Dorian's home to inform him of her suicide. He advises Dorian that "one should absorb the color of life, but one should never remember it's details. Details are always vulgar."ÃÂ (pg.111) This is the start of Dorian yielding more freely to his temptation. He is persuaded to forget the details of the pain he has caused Sibyl and indirectly the death he has caused. He is persuaded to not spend his time thinking of the little things that were, they are vulgar, not worth his time. He is, most importantly, persuaded to ignore the sneer of cruelty in his portrait; it is a detail and can stop him from doing nothing. This new attitude enables Dorian to start committing sin without the burden of emotional consequence.
Lord Henry's philosophies on life, whether they are real or just to make people think, have a lot of influence over the development of the character of Dorian Gray in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Lord Henry introduces Dorian to new ideas, new passions. He encourages Dorian to think about his life, most often in ways inspired by himself. Perhaps page 114 best sums it up. "After some time Dorian Gray looked up, "ÃÂYou have explained me to myself, Harry,' he murmured, with some sigh of relief."ÃÂ