preview

Oscar Wilde Morality

Good Essays
Morality is not a concern for Oscar Wilde and his characters. The lives of the characters throughout the novel are dictated by their authenticity. Whenever a character gives themselves over to artifice, they are rebuked for it soon after, regardless of how “good” or “bad” their actions may be. Wilde uses this novel as a cautionary tale for what can happen to a person when they abandon their own beliefs and natural impulses in favor of other’s opinions and affectation. Basil Hallward lives what most would consider a moral life, but his actions to influence others ultimately lead to his downfall. At the start of the novel we see him admiring and borderline idolizing Dorian for his beauty. However, he leaves it at just that. He accepts Dorian for who he is and does not view his youth as an excuse to try and mold him into the kind of person he wants him to be. When Dorian chooses to be influenced by Lord Henry, he cautions him, but does not actually try to stop him; however, this pattern does not continue for long. Over time, Basil begins to scold Dorian and attempt to nudge him into what he believes is the right direction. At the point of his downfall is when he most forcefully attempts to persuade Dorian to do something that can only be done through one’s own volition. He insists that Dorian pray in an attempt to save himself: ‘It is never too late, Dorian. Let us kneel down and try if we can not remember a prayer. Isn’t there a verse somewhere, ‘Though our sins
Get Access