Last Updated 13 Jan 2021

Dorian Gray and the Theme of Beauty

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Commonly deformity is symbolic… whether it represents the good and purity in someone or the corruption in their very soul is a different story. In the book, “Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde, deformity is used to symbolize the corruption and degradation of Dorian’s soul. Dorian’s own beauty could be considered a deformity and this deformity destroyed Dorian’s life. He has an unnatural, surreal beauty and it’s this beauty that causes him to become so evil and corrupted. It’s the reason behind his madness. He actually traded his soul to keep his youth and beauty; “…If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old!

For that- for that- I would give everything! I would give my soul for that! ” His beauty was so symbolic because it was pure, innocent and divine at the beginning of the novel yet it ended up causing the decay and destruction of a young man’s life. Though his looks should have been a gift it became a curse that corrupted his soul and destroyed his life. He became too obsessed with his looks and thus lost his soul. When Dorian saw the portrait painted he soon begins to loath it because “I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young.

It will never be older than this particular day in June… I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. ” He in turn wishes that he was to stay young and beautiful and the portrait was to show all the signs of aging and sin. This is the beginning of Dorian’s troubles. He goes through his life looking young and innocent but all the sins he commits shows on the canvas, “The terrible portrait whose changing features show him the real degradation of his life…He had a secret pleasure of the misshapen shadow that had to bear the burden that should’ve been his own. Any time Dorian does something sinful, selfish, cruel, or falls to temptation it all shows up on the canvas to mar his idyllic beauty. “A sense of infinite pity, not for himself, but for the painted image of himself, came over him. It has altered already and would alter more. For every sin he committed, a stain would fleck and wreck its fairness. ” Dorian knew that his soul was being corrupted because he could see it on the painting, but he took no notice. Since the signs of sin don’t show up on him (but rather the painting) he participates in immoral temptations, He uses the painting as an outlet for all his desires.

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One example of his corruption is when he is cruel to Sibyl Vane; that is the first act of evil he commits and it’s when the first sign of deformity shows on the painting. Dorian only loved Sibyl for her acting and when she acted badly in Romeo and Juliet, even though she did it because she loved Dorian enough to learn that true love isn’t what she had been acting, he completely abandons her and breaks her heart. He said that, “There is always something ridiculous about the emotion of people whom one has ceased to love. Sibyl Vane seemed to him to be absurdly melodramatic.

Her tears and sobs annoyed him. As soon as Dorian got home he first noticed that the portrait changed, it revealed his cruelty. It was described that “The face appeared to him to be a little changed. The expression looked different. One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth. This was the beginning of the corruption of Dorian’s soul, the corruption of the painting. He was unnecessarily cruel to Sibyl Vane and his soul was changed as a result; the deformity of the mouth on the painting was a visual resemblance to Dorian’s soul and the corruption it was beginning to feel.

Dorian Gray was the definition of beauty; he was pure, innocent and stunning but he had a soul as corrupt as the seven deadly sins. He traded his soul to stay young forever but in turn a portrait of himself was a visual representation of his soul. Over time it grew deformed and hideous and this showed that Dorian’s own soul was also becoming deformed, corrupted and hideous. The degradation of the painting shows that corruption of the soul is a type of deformity.

Dorian Gray and the Theme of Beauty essay

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Related Questions

on Dorian Gray and the Theme of Beauty

What is the moral of Dorian Gray?

Answer and Clarification: The lesson of The Image of Dorian Dark is about the intensity of blame as a feeling. Dorian Dim can't get away from reality with regards to himself he sees...

What influences Dorian Gray?

Dorian, through Master Henry's impact, completely yields to an individualistic, tasteful, libertine way of life which Ruler Henry advanced, yet never completely lived out. Wilde utilizes Master Henry and Dorian's relationship to embody impacts most startling capacity, the capacity of control.

What is the meaning behind the picture of Dorian Gray?

The Image of Dorian Dim is an anecdote about a young whose magnificence is unaffected by age or defilement since his spirit is set in his picture. ... The picture comes to speak to the changing province of Dorian's spirit, while the genuine, human Dorian is purged out – however the external magnificence remains the same.

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Dorian Gray and the Theme of Beauty. (2018, Oct 14). Retrieved from

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