Analysis Of Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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‘Once in his life may a man send his soul away, but he who receiveth back his soul must keep it with him forever, and this is his punishment and his reward’. A body, a soul, and a heart are the three elements that Oscar Wilde thought of as being essential to man. The body is the vessel, the carcass that keeps everything, including the heart, which is the house of feelings, bound together. Distinct and separate from the body is the soul which is the transcendent, ineffable spiritual proof of existence. Is it possible, however, that we would not be aware if the soul ever left the carcass? Could the soul leave us without any warning? What would happen then? Oscar Wilde, due to his quite insouciant character, was intrigued by the idea of disturbing the balance between these elements, wanting to see what exactly would happen if, let us say, one’s soul and one’s heart were to be separated. This is the theme that also serves at the core of Oscar Wilde’s most significant and most renowned work of prose, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Nevertheless, this is not the only time that we are faced with the parting of the soul and the heart. In Wilde’s lesser known volume, A House of Pomegranates, dedicated to Constance Mary Wilde, (his then wife) there is one fairy tale which critics think that ‘it is the most complex of Wilde’s fairy tales’ and was described by John A. Quintus as ‘another treatment of the doppelgänger theme in which the body and the soul are separated, as they are in The
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