Theme Of Vanity In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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One of the most significant themes in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is society’s reliance on outward appearances and superficial values. The portrait in which Basil Hallward paints for his dear friend Dorian is the physical representation of vanity, ultimately depicting the consequences of leading a life of excessive egotism and greed. Although the core message behind the painting remains the same throughout the entire novel, its impact in regards to the protagonist’s character as a whole alters several times as his personality continuously transforms. When Dorian’s soul distorts, so does the portrait in response to his progressive moral decline. During their first conversation, Basil and Lord Henry begin talking about Dorian’s profound innocence at great length. The painter eagerly explains to Henry how much of an influence the young man has on his career exclaiming, “‘His personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style’’’ (Wilde 8). Basil believes his work only has meaning thanks to his fateful encounter with Dorian and being able to witness his heart. Henry later criticises his idolization for Dorian by accurately foreshadowing, “‘Some day you will look at your friend, and he will seem to you to be a little out of drawing, or you won’t like his tone of colour, or something”’ (Wilde 9). To which Basil retorts with, “‘As long as I live, the personality of Dorian Gray will dominate me”’ (Wilde 9). It becomes
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