The Portrait of Dorian Grey
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The Portrait of Dorian Grey
Immorality and Immortality
Beauty has been the object of pursuit for a lot of people for thousands of years. Oscar Wilde, the author of the novel, emphasizes this idea (pursuit of beauty) and its downsides using Dorian and the portrait of him as the tool, by changing the image of the picture as the story proceeds. As the innocence of Dorian Gray is being corrupted, the portrait gets uglier and uglier, and it gets old while Dorian keeps his youth for over a decade. This process can be separated into three main phases according to the intensity of Dorian's brutality , which are the original state, changed state, and being back to the first state again .
Firstly, t he original form of the portrait was beauty itself. It was even called the masterpiece of the artist, Basil Hallward . It stands not only for his beauty, b ut also for his shining youth. The picture was given to Dorian to continuously remind him to not forget how nice looking he was with the youth. However, Dorian falls in love with it far too much and even wishes that the picture gets old instead of him.
This hope of Dorian actually comes true. The portrait actually shows a slight change which is the second phase of the process. An evil-looking grin, or rather a smirk replaced the gorgeous smile it originally had. This was due to Dorian's cruel attitude towards Sybil Vane, a pretty, talented young actress. He was in love with her and even engaged, until he said some harsh things to the girl such as "Now you don't even stir my curiosity You are shallow and stupid. My God! How mad I was to love you! What a fool I have been! You are nothing to me now. " He notices his portrait has changed after his behavior, regrets, and decides to go back to her the next morning to apologize. However, he was too late since Sybil already committed suicide at the night of the event. The picture goes through even more dramatic change in appearance when Dorian murders his good old friend, Basil. After the homicide, the portrait is at the peak of its wickedness.
The last phase is it turning back to the magnificent form as when it was first painted. This was after Dorian Gray killed himself at last. At the last scene of the novel, he realized that he had some conscience left deep down in his mind. As he grabs the knife used to kill Basil to destroy the picture this time, he thinks that "As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter's work, and all that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead he would be free". So he stabbed the picture with the weapon, but the boundary between the picture and himself was not clear anymore by the time. The one he actually pierced was himself, and that brought the end to all the situation as well, by ending immortality and the immorality.
The change of the portrait has significance relations to the characters' feelings and actions as well. When it was first drawn, all people were full of joy optimistic. On the other hand, as it turns into a vicious form, the general mood of the novel turns dark as well with sequences of terrifying occasions. I magery is quite important part of this novel, since all the situations changes as the images do. This successful usage of imagery makes this novel truly terrifying, but at the same time, quite enjoyable.
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