British Soc & Lit 1 Blog Post 4: Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

(You can skip chapter 11 if you are short on time)

Presentations & Blog posts due: Thursday, May 17

Write a post here of two paragraphs (about 200 words) discussing the novel. Choose one topic, or make your post a reply to someone else’s post.

For the presentations, choose one topic per group. Your presentation must present an opinion or argument; it cannot just summarize the story. You must e-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved, at least a few days before.

  1. Can we define Dorian’s nature as either good or evil? Whose fault is it that he becomes corrupt?
  2. “All art is quite useless.” Do you think this is true? Why does Wilde write this? Does the novel prove or disprove this in any way?
  3. What impact does Sibyl’s death have on Dorian? Are there places in the novel where Dorian could easily turn away from evil and change?
  4. The characters in the novel seem selfish. Is it possible that the only person who loves anybody in the novel is James Vane, for his sister Sibyl? Do other people have real love or friendship for others?
  5. Does Dorian continue to derive actual pleasure from his actions as time goes on? If not, what motivates him?
  6. Does Dorian actually cause his own downfall, or is it Lord Henry’s fault? Who is the most to blame?
  7. Does Lord Henry suffer for his actions, or does he get away with what he’s done? Or has he actually done anything wrong?
  8. Is Dorian Gray an immoral book, or does it have a lesson? Do you agree with early critics who said the book was a bad influence on people?
  9. Are there other themes or ideas in the novel you think are interesting?

14 thoughts on “British Soc & Lit 1 Blog Post 4: Dorian Gray

  1. Soyeon Kim

    Q.Can we define Dorian’s nature as either good or evil? Whose fault is it that he becomes corrupt?

    A.In my opinion, we can define Dorian’s nature as good. I agree to the theory that human nature is fundamentally good of Mencius. When we see babies who didn’t learn to live together with others yet, we can see that they naturally show warm-hearted actions like consideration for others. Of course, they show some risky moments but it is caused just by their purity. They didn’t learn the regulations yet. Like this, humans are born with good nature but easily can be changed by their surroundings. Parents, school, friends, and so on. Lots of things can change the nature of human.
    Let’s look into Dorian. He was really gentle and pure man. He didn’t have any interest in lustful things until he met Lord Henry. He led Dorian into bad situation. Dorian was pure and what he did is just following Lord Henry. After this change, Dorian started to do some bad things spontaneously even the murder. In conclusion, He was a poor youngster who was tempted into bad person.

    Reply
  2. Alina Kim

    Q. What impact does Sibyl’s death have on Dorian? Are there places in the novel where Dorian could easily turn away from evil and change?

    A. I think that Sibyl represents many characteristic in the novel. Sybil represents Dorian’s inner good and purity. I think that Dorian too self obsessed and I don’t think that Dorian ever fall in love with Sibyl. She was Dorian’s last chance to redemption. “He would go back to Sibyl, make her amends, marry her, try to love her again…His life would cleanse his soul and return beauty to his portrait. However, when Sibyl killed herself, Dorian doesn’t even grieve, he simply moves on. His only grief stemes from the reality that his last chance to become pure is lost with the Sibyl’s death. After this, Dorian act however he wants and not care about the consequences that may come. The suicide leads to the detorioration of Dorian’s moral character.
    I think that thoughought the novel Dorian was under influence of of Lord Henry, but Dorian was the only who made a decision how to act, good or bad.

    Reply
  3. park jieun

    There are real loves like James Vane’s love for his sister Sibyl of course. I think that loves are from husband and wife and family. Personally, I feel real love from my parents and sister. For example, they care me even until now and I think they will care me until I wil die. Actually, real love means that giving someone love infinitely and do not want any compensation. And my family give me that kind of love. And I think James Vane gives her sister real love too as well as my family’s love. Because he feels anger and wants to revenge to Dorian because of her sister. And this feeling can not be appeared to someone who don’t have real love feeling.
    So, I mean someone who has real love will do everything for the subject who they give thier love. And I think someone who gives real love is almost family. Because it is hard to give real love for someone except for family. And actually I have real love to my family too.

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  4. park jieun

    Q .The characters in the novel seem selfish. Is it possible that the only person who loves anybody in the novel is James Vane, for his sister Sibyl? Do other people have real love or friendship for others?

    Reply
  5. Song Yoo Hyeong

    Q : Can we define Dorian’s nature as either good or evil? Whose fault is it that he becomes corrupt?

    A : I think one can’t simply define the other’s nature as either good or evil. Because everyone can be easily corrupted. It’s just between those who deny the temptation and commit no sin and those who submit to the temptation. But what I found interesting is that Dorian is on both of these sides. He does the crime. And then he regrets what he’s done and tries not to do that again, which he’ll do next time. This cycle shows that Dorian has at least the will to end the corruption. And the problem is that he doesn’t listen to his friend Basil who can help him get out of the corruption. If he’d had that will, He should have listened to the truthful concern from Basil. But he doesn’t.
    So, who’s to blame? Most people would say it is Lord Henry’s fault. It’s simply because that new Hedonist makes Dorian live for pleasure. But the choices are up to Dorian himself. Even if Lord Henry affected him that way, it is Dorian who lives his own life. He could have listened to Basil, but he follows Lord Henry’s way. In conclusion, I think everyone can easily become a sinner, which is not a fault. But the important thing is that we need to choose to deny temptation. Dorian doesn’t do that, so I want to say he has the responsibility for his corruption.

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  6. Yoo Jieun

    Q. Is Sibyl love innocent?

    A. If I jump into conclusions I would say her love isn’t so innocent. There isn’t a lot to annalize about her because she doesn’t appear after her death and that came very quick. But we can look at what her so called ‘Love’ affected her loved ones. First, she made a mother and a brother lose a loving daughter and sister. Next, her death was what triggered Dorian’s downfall. Her actions made everyone she ever loved sorrowy in deep pain. There is an argument that Dorian’s actions caused Sibyl’s suicide in the frist place.

    However this is what I think. Sibyl was young, but she works at a highly dangerous place as an actress. She would have seen a lot of people suffering from real life problems. Like, debts or gigolo’s. Meaning she couldn’t be as pure as you would think. And as a actress she had knowledge to love story’s that end with dead loved one’s. Meaning she would have known that her actions would cause a huge wound to whom she loved. Last, where she died. She was found in a open space where people could easily find her, which means she had no intentions to hide her body after death. My conclusion is, Sibyl your most loved pure lady killed herself to make Dorian guilty. Tempting to heart his heart. Maybe to show him she could still play as an actress, who’s role is to love someone so strong she would die for him. Leaving Dorian a message to not forget her and show she loved him in a very scary way.

    Reply
  7. Lim Byeongrak

    Q: “All art is quite useless.” Do you think this is true? Why does Wilde write this? Does the novel prove or disprove this in any way?
    A; I think Oscar Wild wrote that phrase to show Lord Henry’s contradiction between his life and what he says. I take useless’ meaning as something that can not affect other things. But Lord Henry regard other people’s life as the one form of art. And he loves to observe it. As he loves observing, it is natural to him to be a critic. Criticism starts from viewing. His habit criticizing people’s life makes him arrogant and a skeptic. How can he say he have not been affected by the art, people’s lives. That habit make him to think like he do in the novel and make his own way to go through the life. He take people’s lives as art, but he said ‘All art is quite useless’, even thought he has been affected by this, how paradoxical is it.
    It can be related to question number 8. The reason people regarded Dorian Gray immoral is that the art is not useless. It can affect people. What people in that time most worried about is, I think, what Lord Henry said. From Henry’s view, women are disrespectful, silly and dumb. Also, his skeptical way to live surely affect the reader.
    So, no matter did he mean it or not, the reader of this book worried the effect this book can trigger. It means this book can affect people, not useless. He showed people ‘All art is not useless’.

    Reply
  8. Melanie Movileanu

    Q: Are there other themes or ideas in the novel you think are interesting?
    A: In the moment Basil sees the painting, he is terrified and shocked. He cannot believe that Dorian in reality is like this. He even compared the man on the painting with the Devil implying that this is who Dorian became with time. However, he does not run away. He does not give up on Dorian. Even, when he sees Dorian’s true self, he does care about him. He tries to save his soul from fall. In this moment I realized, that, maybe, Basil loves Dorian not only because of his appearance. And Dorian is not just a beautiful object for him.
    It is hard to accept even minor faults and weaknesses of our lovers, friends, family members. The idea that Basil has so much compasion and forgiveness in him, that even in the moment when he sees Dorian’s real face, he is still loving and protective, that he still wants to be near him and does not abandon him, makes me think of how deep is his love and how tragic his end is. He is killled by the person he loves the most in the world. But even still, I think Basil would forgive Dorian. Even more than Dorian would do.

    Reply
  9. lee ji won

    Does Dorian actually cause his own downfall, or is it Lord Henry’s fault? Who is the most to blame?

    At the beginning of the novel, Dorian gray is describe as delightfully pure and innocent boy. When, Lord Henry saw Dorian, Basil told him “He has a simple and a beautiful nature…Don’t spoil him.” Because, Basil knew he was not that good person. But, why did Dorian followed what Lord Henry told?
    Lord Henry’s lecture made Dorian feel entirely new, gives fresh influences and Dorian becomes obsessed with Lord Henry. Under Lord Henry’s influence he becomes corrupt, and eventually begins corrupting himself. In novel we can find, if anything Dorian did bad or illegal, there was Lord Henry besides. By saying immoral and unnecessary things to Dorian, and letting him to do or behave like what he said do so. Like, When, Dorian dumped Sybil, he had sense of sorry and conscious for her, and he tries to write letter for her. But after, he heard Sybil died, Under Henry’s direction, Dorian comes to appreciate Sibyl’s death as “a wonderful ending to a wonderful play.”
    Therefore, I think Dorian actually didn’t cause his own downfall. By controlling and convincing about, Lord Henry cause him down fall.

    Reply
  10. Suhyun Ji

    2. “All art is quite useless.” Do you think this is true? Why does Wilde write this? Does the novel prove or disprove this in any way?

    I think “All art is quite useless” means nothing which is matched with nihilism. Wilde wants to talk about this quote explains well the main point of “The picture of Dorian Grey”. The main point is that beauty is not forever and pay the price for something evil Dorian did. So the novel quite well proves this quote in depicting Dorian and furthermore Henry.
    Dorian dead because of desire for eternal beauty and felt no guilty at all. He thinks his image in art is so beautiful and perfect so he want to maintain image in art. Henry seduces his opinion about art to Dorian at first and such an eternal beauty only tells Dorian. These stances they think proved “All art is quite useless” at the end of novel.

    Reply
  11. Lee, InKyeong

    Dorian’s nature is good. Although Dorian did some terrible things, he was born good. However, he becomes corrupt because of the surrounders of his life, especially Lord Henry.
    We can see in the novel that in the end of story Dorian seems to regret what he did not the whole thing but some of it. That he seems to have a little mind that is still not evil enough to endure his action. By those parts, we can say that he was born with a good heart.
    Every awful things that Dorian did happens after he meets Lord Henry. Dorian was just a beautiful and attractive looking man who doesn’t seem to do such terrible things like murders. Then he meets Lord Henry who affected his life the most in a bad way.
    Nevertheless, we can’t say it is Lord Henry’s fault that Dorian becomes corrupt. Since it was Dorian who chose to behave that way, it was Dorian that made himself corrupted.

    Reply
  12. Hassaan Sheikh

    6. I think both Dorian and Lord Henry contribute to Dorian’s downfall. Lord Henry slowly corrupts Dorian by starting off small and telling him to live for pleasure, and he gradually nudges Dorian toward a more evil path, telling him things like “life has everything in store for you, Dorian. There is nothing that you, with your extraordinary good looks, will not be able to do.” Although I think Dorian wouldn’t have become the person he was at the end of the novel if it wasn’t for Lord Henry, Dorian is partly to blame as well. Dorian was the one making the decisions for himself, not Lord Henry. Dorian’s treatment of Sybil made her kill herself, he killed Basil, and he contributed to James’s death. He had plenty of times in the story to turn his life around and start being better. I think both Lord Henry and Dorian are at fault, but Dorian a bit more so. It is much easier to be a good person if there is nothing influencing you to act otherwise. A child growing up in a safe neighborhood is more likely to become a good person than a child growing up in a dangerous one. Although Dorian started off as a normal person, he let Lord Henry’s ideas influence himself too much without thinking about them, and that is what led to his downfall.

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  13. Jeon hye joon

    Does Dorian actually cause his own downfall, or is it Lord Henry’s fault? Who is the most to blame?

    I think we can’t blame Lord Henry because he make Dorian to be depravity. The person who should be blamed is Dorian himself. I think there are two reason of it.
    First, All of the bad events were happened by Dorian’s obsession of his appearence. Lord Henry made Dorian to be more concentrate to hedonism, but a person who chose to pray to be eternal beauty is Dorian. He made his own decision even he was kind and nice before. He just changed. It doesn’t make sense to blame person who make influence to him. Dorian can decide and select Lord henry’s decision. Not just listening and accepting.

    Second, the most important thing is the ability of selection. Even if the imformation and person like Lord Henry seems really chraming, He was adult and had a mind what to follow. He did the bad thing with his own decision. He became the different person when he met Henry. We should think he had a lack of self-ego. He get too much negative influence from others. He should build the right mind process by his selection.
    So I think Dorian should be blamed what he did and decided. It wasn’t right.

    Reply
  14. Park ByungJun

    Q. Is Dorian Gray an immoral book, or does it have a lesson? Do you agree with early critics who said the book was a bad influence on people?

    A. In my opinion, literature itself, has no good or bad like Oscar Wilde said. The novel might been written upon the value of the writer, but the work can be interpreted differently by readers of different times. My thought of this book is that it has something to learn from. Dorian Gray may seem unrealistic, fairy-taleish. But in describing characters’ psychologies in detail, it has some realistic sides. This made me easier to immerse in characters and compare their lives with mine, think about what’s moral. In general, I also discovered classical lesson : there is always a price to pay in everything.
    I agree to the statement that the book had an influence on people, considering the time it was written, end of the Victorian era. However, as a quite progressive person, I would say the influence is good because it somewhat widened the category of literature. As I mentioned above, the work can be interpreted differently by readers of different times. Critics are just another person who has a different view on the novel. They are like Lord Henry giving some advice on it. Whether take the advice or not, is our choice.

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