The Picture of Dorian Gray Moral Lesson

Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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Oscar Wilde is one of the greatest literary showmen of the English nineteenth century. Of all his works, his only novel “…” is considered his masterpiece. In this novel, a moral lesson can be implied: Corruption will lead to destruction, obsession and torture. A moral lesson is experience that one can learn from a story and this lesson follows the standards of behavior considered acceptable and right by most people. A moral lesson implied when people suggest that something be true without actually saying it or suggests something as a necessary result.

In this novel, the moral lesson is not directly delivered to the readers. It could only be found when people analyze what happens to the main character- Dorian Gray, what cause leads to what effect. At first, Dorian Gray appears to be something ideal and beautiful: young, handsome, innocent, simple and sensitive. He becomes the embodiment of Lord Henry’s ideas of the aesthetic life. Dorian soon leaves Basil’s studio for Lord Henry’s parlor, where he adopts the tenets of “the new Hedonism” and resolves to live his life as pleasure- seeker with no regard for conventional morality.

He devotes himself to love in the beginning. Then he go from lover to lover, male and female and he pursues pleasure dispassionately. After that, he kills Basil, unable to accept the kind of love Basil is showing him. Dorian does not have a developed moral sense which would recognize a moral imperative- the idea that something is wrong no matter whether one ever has to pay to any consequences for them. He only regards acts as wrong when he can see their effects on the countenance of the figure in the portrait.

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He seems to separate the body and brain: “The body sins… regret”. If body’s sin is natural, the soul should be responsible for physical action. Where sin has been committed, everything will be over and selfish is irresponsible thinking. At the end of the novel, Dorian is punished by his conscience, his innate and inner judge. He is torture badly for a long period leading to a tragic death. It is not the only thing he has to pay for his sins. The corruption from others leads to his destruction, bsession and torture. In the end, Dorian seems to be punished by his ability to be influenced: if the new social order celebrates individualism, as Lord Henry claims, Dorian falters because he fails to establish and live by his own moral code. In our life, we need to be alert in front of the seductions that are popular nowadays: hedonism and immoral pleasures. If not, we may be affected badly by the materialism leading to regrettable consequences.

Related Questions

on The Picture of Dorian Gray Moral Lesson

What is the moral lesson of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray?
The moral lesson of The Picture of Dorian Gray is that vanity and selfishness can lead to a life of unhappiness and destruction. Dorian's pursuit of pleasure and beauty leads him to make immoral choices, and in the end, he is unable to escape the consequences of his actions. The novel serves as a warning to readers to be mindful of their choices and to strive for a life of balance and moderation.
What is the most important theme in The Picture of Dorian Gray?
The most important theme in The Picture of Dorian Gray is the consequences of vanity and hedonism. Dorian's pursuit of pleasure and beauty leads to his moral and physical corruption, demonstrating the dangers of unchecked vanity and selfishness.
Are books either moral or immoral according to Oscar Wilde's preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray?
Oscar Wilde does not explicitly state that books are either moral or immoral in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray. However, he does suggest that art should not be judged by moral standards, and that it should be appreciated for its beauty and creativity. He also states that art should not be used to teach morality, but rather to inspire and entertain.
What is moral ambiguity in The Picture of Dorian Gray?
Moral ambiguity in The Picture of Dorian Gray refers to the lack of clear moral judgement in the novel. Dorian Gray's actions are often morally ambiguous, as he is both a victim and a perpetrator of immoral acts. This ambiguity is further complicated by the fact that Dorian's portrait ages and deteriorates as he commits more immoral acts, while Dorian himself remains young and beautiful.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Moral Lesson. (2017, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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