Lord Henrys Characterisation in chapters 1-4 Lord Henry’s character is perhaps the most influential in the novel, serving as the one of the prime contributors to Dorian’s corruption. In chapter 1, Basil pleas Wotton to stay away from Dorian as not to “spoil him”, then, after a pause states, “mind harry, I trust you”. Basil feels these words have been “…wrung out of him almost against his will”; this portrays Lord Henry’s power in influence as Lord Henry has gotten his way without so much as a word.
We know Dorian is awfully important to Basil, as we know, he is absolutely infatuated “he is all my art to me now”. If Lord Henry were dangerous, why would Basil allow him to meet with Dorian? This is because Basil is powerless in the feat of Lord Henry’s manipulative powers. Lord Henry is worldly, experienced and speaks with conviction. , he is confident in his words and is self-assured. His statements are respected and are rarely challenged, even in his social group of learned aristocrats he is highly respected.
From the first page Lord Henry uses complex figures of speech and never misses an opportunity to display his wit. His conversations are always filled with a great amount of puns, wordplay and paradox’s -”there is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about” At times it seems he is speaking in riddles, adding to his allure and mysteriousness that captures the reader.
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He is an artist of language and skillfully uses his art to experiment with people, this is clear in the unique development of his thinking up an idea shown in ”he played with the idea, and grew wistful; tossed it into the air and transformed it; let it escape and recaptured it (page 42)“ the actual attention to detail in his ideas as well as his thorough deliberation, convey what gives him such confidence and power. Lord Henrys views are generally considered immoral, but, through his eloquent speech and his thoughtful presentation of dialogue the reader, it seems reasonable to consider his impressive, seemingly well argued opinions.
This helps us to understand Lord Henry’s ease and capability in the corruption of Dorian. His intelligence diverts from his manipulative nature and bad intentions. He knows his power and makes his own rules, the only person that truly can infiltrate him is himself. He refuses to recognize moral standard. He is a radical asthete and values looks highly over intellect choosing his friends for “good looks” and his enemies “for their intellects”. Relative to this, he is enthralled by Dorians good looks and calls him “charming”.
He is also fascinated by Dorian but unlike Basil, see’s him as an experiment and seeks to play with him. Lord Henry says at one point “I like persons better than principles” displaying his lack of morals and his shallow nature. He even believes “intellect destroys beauty” which could possibly be self loathing or could be a fascination with the face value of people, that can be linked to the preface in that art is to be admired and not read beyond how it appears.
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