The Picture Of Dorian Gray Analysis

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Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ is a story immensely useful in painting a moral lesson. It is a representation of the potential consequences of having an unbalanced personality, which can be best read through the principles of the psychologist Sigmund Freud and his theories on the id, ego and superego. The id, which is the primitive part of our personality, operates on the pleasure principle and is entirely selfish –demanding instant gratification of its needs. It is manifested in ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ through Lord Henry, who ‘represent[s] to [Dorian] all the sins [he has] never had the courage to commit.’ The Superego, by complete contrast, represents the personalities internalised sense of right and wrong and is based on the morality principle. It is embodied in the character of Basil Hallward, who symbolises the novels only moral figure who is destroyed at the end of the story for presenting a threat to the pleasure principle of the id. The ego, which works on the reality principle and behaves as the mediator between the other two parts of personality, has the role of reducing the conflict between the demands of the id and the superego. It does this by employing defence mechanisms. Perhaps the tragedy of ‘Dorian Grey’ lies in the titular characters inability to embody the ego and mediate between the id and superego, which results in an unbalanced personality. The story exposes how the willing allowance of the id to override the superego –which culminates in
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