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: Tuesday, May 21

  • Group 6 (Gyeongyeon): Is Basil a good or bad man, and what is his effect on Dorian?
  • Group 7: Why Dorian falls into evil (podcast).

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. E-mail or speak to me before your presentation to have it approved.

  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. Is Dorian sorry for what he’s done at the end?
  10. Are there other themes or ideas in the novel you think are interesting?

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

  1. HaeRi Seo

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

    If I was reading the beginning of this book when I saw this question, I think I should have thought that it was wholly Lord Henry’s fault which made an innocent Dorian Gray turn into an evil man. However, as I read throughout the book , I could see that it wasn’t all Lord Henry’s fault. Even though Dorian’s friend, Basil, tried to stop Dorian getting more evil and to convince him to pray, Dorian didn’t stop. After he does bad things, Dorian just keeps rationalizing his actions and doesn’t think they matter.

    For example, when James Vane, who is Sybil Vanes’s brother comes to murder Dorian for the death of James’s sister, Dorian could have admitted his faults and could have apologized truly from his heart. However, instead of apologizing and admitting his actions, Dorian uses his youth and runs away from James that he is too young for his age. I really felt that Dorian led himself to his downfall instead of Lord Henry or other characters in the novel, as he really doesn’t try to change in his own will.

    Reply
  2. Gyeongyeon Kim

    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?

    The night before he heard the news about Sibyl, Dorian found something changed in his portrait. Dorian realized that his soul was expressed in the portrait and even wrote a letter to Sibyl with regret and apology for his cold and selfish attitude toward her. But the next day, when Dorian heard of Sibyl’s suicide from Lord Henry, he panicked and confused, wondering if he was involved in that accident, and not knowing what to do in the future. At this moment, however, Lord Henry, the only one near to Dorian, likened Sibyl’s death to the end of the play and persuaded Dorian to forget all about it and asked him to go to the opera. After all, Dorian was persuaded by Lord Henry. Sibyl’s death was shocked Dorian and that scene reveals that Dorian was not a situation in which was vulnerable and psychologically able to make the right choice. But beside Dorian was Lord Henry, a hedonist, and Dorian could not help but be persuaded by Lord Henry’s words. In this situation, Dorian hung out with Lord Henry and lived a more corrupt life than before. In conclusion, after Sibyl’s death, Dorian became a more pleasure-seeking character.
    I think Dorian cannot easily turn away from evil in this novel. By becoming a pleasure seeker, Dorian hung out with the likes of Lord Henry and became even more corrupt. Before he dropped that attitude in life, there is the only situation that could change his mind. That was first time when he found his portrait that turned into a cruel face. But his desire to live a good life at this time was persuaded by Lord Henry’s words overnight and disappeared. Since then, he has been corrupted. In the ending part of the novel, people around him (like Basil, Alan Campbell, and James Vane) were dead so Dorian felt relaxed, and he was trying to live a good life but all such attitudes just came from his vanity and hypocrisy. In the end, there was no situation where Dorian was able to turn away from evil.

    Reply
  3. Jang HAeun

    “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?

    “All art is quite useless”, quote mentioned in the preface of the book, is disproved by the novel. Personally speaking, the book disproves that all art is useless by the paradox. In this novel, art is everything. The portrait of Dorian Gray (art), ruins Dorian. Maybe Lord Henry could have ruined Dorian more, but we cannot deny that the portrait also took large portion in destroyed Dorian’s life. He was innocent when he did not meet both the portrait and Lord Henry. However, he became corrupted after he saw the portrait changing and got the book from Lord Henry. Therefore, I think it id deniable that the novel disproves the phrase “ All art is quite useless”.

    Reply
  4. Kim Yejin

    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?

    Sibyl’s death have a very big impact on Dorian. But it became a bad impact because he met Lord Henry. If it was Bassil who came to deliver that news, he wouldn’t act that cruelly. Eventually her death had a bad influence in his life. Dorian didn’t really do immoral things before her death. He was just thinking Herry’s belief was attractive. Her death was a big turning point in his life. He started to obsess with pleasure after reading the book Herry gave, however his heart was weaken at that time because of her death.
    Dorian had lots of time to turn away from evil. It would be best, if before he became evil, he listen to his true friend Bassil and didn’t get along with Lord Henry. After he became a cruel man, the first time he was shocked by the portrait’s change, he could have change if he wanted. Herry had a bad influence on him and made him feel free about Sibyl’s death. Dorian couldn’t have listen to him but he try to think he was right. The reality was too harsh for him to face so he just self-justificated. Another time was when Bassil had visited him and saw the portrait. He was very evil at that time, but if at least he didn’t kill Bassil, Bassil would have give up going to France and helped him change.

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  5. Jaeyun Park

    6. Does Dorian actually cause his own downfall, or is it Lord Henry’s fault? Who is the most to blame?
    When I read the whole story, I think Dorian cause hiw own downfall. Although it is true that Lord Henry had a lot of influence on the reason Dorian’s ruin first began, Dorian’s subsequent actions were made by making and choosing his own decisions. As the story progresses, Dorian becomes impatient at killing people and hurts people who were important to him. This image of Dorian shows that he wants to destroy everything that is unsatisfying or intrusive because of his own excessive self-consciousness, rather than through Lord Henry’s commad. The actions he did, especially for Sibyl, the woman he loved, showed his own negative determination to keep people away from his surroundings who had different values or ideas. As Dorian behaves more and more evilly, I can see his excessive obsession with his portrait. From these scenes, I thought no one could stop his bad behaves.

    But on the other hand, it was Lord Henry who fascinated Dorian at the beginning of the story. Although his friends, Basil, were stopped from meeting Lord Henry and Dorian for the first time, it was seemed that Lord Henry gave some negative influence on Dorian. Henry, for example, emphasized Dorian’s youth and gave him an incentive to cling to his youth. However, if Dorian had held on to his own mind, I think it was an influence enough to endure. For these reasons, I think Dorian’s downfall was caused by Dorian himself.

    Reply
  6. Yu Sieun

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

    I think Dorian Gray is corrupt himself. Although Henry advised Dorian Gray about the finiteness of beauty and youth and had many other bad effects, it was Dorian Greene who was eventually influenced and acted as murder.
    I think a good person who is not really evil in nature should have acted with his or her own mind no matter how much influence he or she may have had around him. It’s Dorian Gray who can’t get through it and fell into the pit of corruption.

    When I read a book, I felt that he was really corrupt because his behavior was different from that of ordinary people when he heard that Sybil had committed suicide. Generally, it hurts when we hear about someone’s death, even when we’re not very close.
    But he didn’t feel guilty or hurt, even though his marriage-thinking partner died, and even if he had some responsibility. How can all this be the result of Henry’s influence? It was Dorian Gray’s nature, and it only produced the result of corruption by adding a condiment called influence. That is why I think it is his own fault and that he should be blamed.

    Reply
  7. Heo Jaeeun

    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?

    It is hard to say that Dorian Gray was bad influence on people. At the end of the book, Dorian murdered the person, Basil, who painted his poetry. The book described the young and pure man’s corruption. In this process, although there was intervention of Lord Henry, who were already not pure and innocent, it doesn’t makes Dorian is innocence. The process of change Dorian’s character, it is hard to say that there is no influence of Lord Henry. It means if Lord Henry doesn’t come out in Dorian’s life, he maybe lived as before. But the point is ‘maybe’. Lord Henry is kind of temptation during one’s life. And nobody could expected that there’s no temptation in my whole life or someone’s life. Like this nobody know if a temptation will come out Dorian’s life.
    Consider Dorian in the book, I’m able to find a kind of lesson through out his life. I can thinking about ‘How I deal with the temptation, a person or a metal. Epicureanism is what Lord Henry followed and it sound interesting especially to someone who ever experience that. Through Dorian Gray, we can consider our behavior and will when something or someone come out like Lord Henry in our life. That’s the lesson in my opinion.

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  8. Lee Jimin

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

    I think that Dorian actually cause his own downfall. It is not Lord Henry’s fault. Lord Henry’s words of pleasure and youth, of course, have intrigued Dorian about a shaky future that will crumble along with the expectation of a young day. However, I think it is entirely Dorian’s decision to fall into Sir Henry’s opinion and that is his nature. After all, it was his own decision to wish to maintain his youth and beauty by selling his soul to his portraits. I think the tragedy began when Dorian, who had a beautiful youth, couldn’t stop there and ended up on the path of depravity. As he degenerates, the image of the portrait becomes horrible, and rumors about Dorian made him nervous, and he ended up committing murder.
    The eternity of youth and beauty must have been dreamed of by most people at least once. I think people paint their lives according to how they pursue such desires and aspirations and how they compromise with reality. Dorian came to a miserable end because his desire for eternal youth and beauty ended up on the path of decay. In other words, he brought it to himself.

    Reply
  9. Kim Jahyun

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

    After Dorian Gray did misdeeds, the painting turns evil. Dorian ignores it, leaving it in a hidden, unused room upstairs. He also feels unpleasant about the changed painting, which means that his nature itself is not entirely evil. Because he knows what he’s doing is not a good. But Dorian ignores his conscience and only pursues pleasure.
    We face many temptations in our lives, but we don’t do it if we know it’s wrong. And if you have your own right values, you’re not tempted to say bad things that others quite might say. I think that because Dorian had no firm faith in hisself, he fell for what Henry said. Although I think there was a little fault Henry made for Dorian’s depravity. But in conclusion, Dorian himself was the main reason for his corrupted.
    Had he not only stuck to his young and beautiful outward appearance but pursued his inner beauty, he would not have faced such a tragic ending.

    Reply
  10. Kim min-ji

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

    I think it’s both true.
    It would not be Henry’s fault that he had changed so much. There must be some reason for his change and it seems difficult to say exactly who is to blame. I think this subject has something to do with the sacrament. However, the theories are considered too extreme and his changes are the result of his nature, people around him, and the environment.

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  11. Jin Jun Hyeak

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

    i think we cannot define Dorian’s nature. But to choose whether he’s nature is good or bad, i’ll choose bad. Maybe before the portrait was painted, Dorian’s nature is close to good. After he got youth and beauty forever, he just gradually turned into evil. He is not definitely bad. He just couldn’t act rationally due to his desire.
    Then who drove him to evil ? Although there is some temptation to Dorian, i think Dorian himself fault is the main reason of his corruption. Dorian heard about advantage of youth and beauty by Lord Henry, but who wished the portrait old instead Dorian is Dorian himself. It was his voluntary selection. He could not blame other person. His desire swallowed him. Drove sibyl vane to death and also killed Basil is Dorian’s fault. As a result, his desire to be young and beautiful forever led him to destruction.

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