In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the character, Dorian Gray goes through a major transformation. His major concern throughout the book is himself, which makes the internal conflict in the novel is man vs. himself. When
the novel begins, Dorian is an intellectual young man who is greatly influenced by Henry. Lord Henry and Dorian Gray are almost inseparable. He fills his head with ideas of pleasure and vanity.
When Dorian, known to Sibyl as “Prince Charming”, is engaged, he is immediately transformed. He barely knows Sibyl, and yet, he defends her on many occasions and speaks of marriage as if he has been married for years. “’This is,’ interrupted Dorian, ‘You must admit, Harry, that women give to men the very gold of their lives’” (86) This shows that Dorian seems to feel emotionally attached to a woman that he has known for only a short while. While Lord Henry and Dorian discuss the marriage arrangement, Basil observes that Dorian is not the same man.
Dorian becomes a cold-hearted man when he watches Sibyl play Juliet in the play Romeo and Juliet. Her performance was terrible and Dorian is very angry with her. At the end of the play, Sibyl explains to Dorian that she cannot act when she knows how true love really is. Dorian then tells her that she has killed his love and that he no longer wishes to marry her. Clearly, this is a different mindset than when he discusses her with Lord Henry. When he goes home, he sees the painting that Basil had painted of him and it has “lines of cruelty round the mouth” (98) He believes that the painting is his conscience and he is determined to make everything right again. He claims that he will apologize to Sybil and ask marry her.
When Dorian receives the news that Sybil has killed herself because of him, his callous nature returns. At fist, he feels remorse, and yet, a few moments later, he blames Sybil’s death on Sybil and even has the nerve to call her “selfish”. He checks the portrait to see if it has changed, but it has not. Dorian relies on the portrait because of his selfish nature of good looks and sins.
The portrait corrupts Dorian. It even causes his him to commit the murder of his once good friend, Basil after he tells Dorian to confess. The portrait also caused Dorian to blackmail Campbell. He wrote something on a piece of paper to get him to help with the corpse of Basil.
Dorian becomes so wrapped up in hiding his portrait and the fact that he murdered Basil, that he forgets to enjoy the pleasures that he gave his soul for. When he turns to opium to solve his problems, he meets Sybil’s brother, who begins choking him.
Dorian’s corrupt and selfish nature continues throughout the book. He is glad when he finds that Sybil’s brother is dead. This selfish and corrupt nature eventually leads to his own death.
The style of the author is very different from the style of the other three novels. The style is less laid-back. It is more intellectual. The characters talk as if they were scholars. I did not like this style as much as I liked the writing style of Ken Kesey. Oscar Wilde also was not as straight forward as everyone else. He used a lot of imagery and personification.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think that I can relate to Dorian’s longing for youth and beauty. I am very much concerned about my appearance, as is Dorian, and it is good to think that I would not do something as drastic as sell my soul to preserve my youth.