English 117 Dominance and Influence

English 117 Dominance and Influence - Adina Rosenberg...

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Adina Rosenberg November 7, 2012 117w – Professor Covington Paper 2 – Draft 1 Dominance and Influence in The Picture of Dorian Gray “It was a novel without a plot, and with only one character, being, indeed, simply a psychological study of a certain young Parisian, who spent his life trying to realize […] all the passions and modes of thought that belonged to every century except his own […] Indeed, the whole book seemed to [Dorian] to contain the story of his own life, written before he had lived it.” (Wilde 106-108) Oscar W W ilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story w ith a hose plot that revolves around a hierarchy of influence. In analogic terms, Lord Henry is to Dorian Gray as Oscar Wilde is to the reader us readers . Both Lord Henry and Wilde assert their dominance through by promulgating unique and unconventional ideals, both subtly and overtly. Lord Henry exercises his influences over Dorian, acting as the catalyst for Dorian’s change from a pure boy, with a “simple and beautiful nature” to a wicked and grotesque man (Wilde 16). Oscar Wilde influences us , with his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray , acting as a parallel to the influential “yellow book” given to Dorian by Lord Henry (Wilde 106). Henry and Wilde are both cynicists, seeing the workings of the ideologies around them, and manipulating them for their own benefit.
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The “king,” or the most objectively influential character , of the story, Lord Henry, achieves dominance through different relationships, without ever fully subscribing to the beliefs that he touts so liberally. Lord Henry overtly tries to influence his peers, especially Dorian, with his charismatic and amiable persona. However, Henry achieves his greatest feat of influence when he gives Dorian the “yellow book” filled with all the “sins of the world” (Wilde 106). Dorian is mesmerized, “fascinated” by the book, and “for years [afterwards], Dorian Gray could not free himself from the influence of this book. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he never thought to free himself from it” (Wilde 107-108). Lord Henry most subtle mode of influence wound up being his most effective and affecting. In his preface, Oscar Wilde does the same thing that Lord Henry does: by in giving the reader us a piece of literature, which may or may not reflect his personal beliefs, he changes the way we see everything, including the very book we are about to read. Wilde states, “all art is quite useless,” yet goes on to create one of the most beautiful narratives of all time (Wilde 4). In essence, is Wilde trying to say that the “art” he created in the form of Picture is useless, but not valueless, or is he saying that it is just a load of nonsense? Wilde determines use and value as separate matters, but is
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