, Research Paper
In the book, The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, there is a character named Lord Henry Wotton. He is the story s antagonist and whom critics often think most resembles Oscar Wilde. Wilde remarks Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks of me: Dorian what I would like to be-in other ages perhaps. Within the preface of The Picture Of Dorian Gray, there lie the lines Those who go beneath the symbol do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their own peril. From Wilde s statement, we can assume that there is a part of Wilde represented in each of the main characters, but how they represent him is up for the reader to decide.
According to Wilde s statement, he believes that Basil Hallward best represents him. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are cultivated. Both Wilde and Basil are artists who like to explore all forms of beauty.
Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul. (23)
Throughout the book, it is easily seen that Basil has an interest for Dorian. There are some homosexual characteristics in Basil but he is restricted by the Victorian society to ever act upon it. In this way, Oscar Wilde is represented in the character Basil Hallward.
According to critics, Lord Henry Wotton most closely represents Wilde s character. Critics see Wilde s appreciation for all kinds of art as a form of Hedonism. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Hedonism is what Lord Henry believes in; the belief that all that matters is seeking pleasure in life. Lord Henry is also seen as a bad influence and a very seductive person. Wilde writing this book is seen as a way of convincing the public to become hedonists and therefore critics compare him to Lord Henry.
Finally, Wilde says that he would like to be Dorian but in another time. Dorian starts out as a handsome, wealthy gentleman that s innocent. He is quickly seduced by Lord Henry s words and starts to live life for all its pleasures. These acts are obviously not accepted by the public and with his picture taking all the flaws, his image is never damaged. In my opinion, I believe that when Wilde said he wants to be Dorian, it s because he wishes that he could get rid of a temptation by yielding to it, as Henry would say. Unlike Dorian, Wilde doesn t have a picture to take his flaws and society will not accept him experimenting. In that, it explains why Wilde says he would be Dorian but in another time, a time that will accept his yielding to temptations. There is also the possibility that when Wilde means age, he really meant his age. Henry says to Dorian, Don t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. Dorian can experiment and take risks while he is young, but by the time that Wilde realized this, his golden days had already past.
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is the art s aim. This is the first statement that is written in the preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray, but Wilde obviously revealed himself in this book. His characteristics and personality is revealed through his three main characters: Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward, and Lord Henry Wotten. His image of himself lies within Basil; others image of him lies within Henry; and his ideal image would be Dorian, a young and handsome man with the freedom to satisfy his temptations.