Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray character analysis

The Portrait of Dorian Gray is a famous novel written in 1890 by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde. The novel tells the story of Dorian Gray, a young, handsome man that has a full-length portrait made by Basil Hallward, an artist that sees Dorian as his muse and is inspired by his good looks in a professional but also personal way. In the first chapters, Dorian gets to meet Lord Henry Wotton, a very confident, manipulative man who later on corrupts Dorian and brings out the worst of him. In this essay, we will analyze the way Dorian’s character develops and how his moral system may be altered.

In the initial chapters, Dorian Gray is introduced as a 20-something handsome man who seems childish, spoiled, and even innocent and insecure in many ways. All of these traits make him vulnerable to any sort of influence coming from Lord Henry, who enjoys manipulating people just for the fun of it. In chapter 2, Lord Henry has a brief conversation with Dorian, where Dorian asks Henry if he is actually a “very bad influence”, as Basil had previously mentioned, to which he answers “There is no such thing as a good influence” since “All influence is immoral”. Lord Henry explains that influencing someone means to alter the person’s point of view about himself, including his moral system. Lord Henry continues telling Dorian that “Beauty is a form of Genius” and he pressures Dorian to start living a hedonist way of life since beauty and youth are considered treasured virtues, and Dorian, who possesses both, should be selfish about them and take advantage of it before he grows old and ugly.

When Dorian first looks at the painting that Basil made of him, he realizes the beauty and youth depicted in it and wishes to be young forever just as the painting, offering his soul in return. After this desperate need of never aging, casually having place after meeting and chatting with Lord Henry, the reader may notice that Dorian is actually vulnerable and...