Dorian Gray and his Inner Narcissism

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Focus on the theme of narcissism in “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” This essay will examine how Dorian Gray’s obsession with youth and beauty symbolizes the dangers of excessive self-love and vanity. It will discuss how Wilde uses this theme to critique societal values and the consequences of unchecked narcissism. At PapersOwl, you’ll also come across free essay samples that pertain to Literacy.

Category: Literacy
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Pages:  2
Words:  656
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In Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture Of Dorian Grey”, Oscar Wilde conveys and analyzes the effects of selfishness and deception among Victorian society in Great Britain. The Picture of Dorian Grey carefully examines the mentality of an inner narcissist and those around him. Dorian Grey can be compared to the fictional mythological character Narcissus and his narcissism within the book grows mostly due to the influence of Lord Henry. Within chapter 1, Henry’s narcissism can begin to be seen developing and beginning to influence Dorian.

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This narcissism plays along with his personality and foreshadows the control and influence that Henry will have on the, innocent, Dorian Gray.

Dorian’s beauty ultimately furthered his narcissism. Dorian’s beauty and intelligence were rare traits that were valued in Britain and it is still valued today.. Even if Dorian exhibited these traits, he was not really that attentive or aware of it, and he essentially discovered it after looking Basil’s painting for this time after being his subject. When Dorian discovered his beauty, he had a sudden revelation After the knowledge his beauty came on him, he begins to revel in the advantages of it and being naive, takes advantage with the support of Lord Henry, ultimately committing acts of debauchery and sins without any fear of punishment.

When talking about Dorian Gray and his inner narcissism, we have to analyze one of the characters that was affected the most due to Dorian, and that’s Sybil Vane. Dorian loved Sybil, but he only valued her looks and acting, not her personality, being a shallow infatuation. On the other hand Sybil loved Dorian with all her being; “I have grown sick of shadows. You are more to me than all art can ever be.” Dorian ultimately rejects Sybil, stating that she’s a terrible actress and that he was ultimately a imbecile to love her. This response leads to her committing suicide, while Dorian reacts nonchalantly to it. If we take a look at the Ovid’s tale of Echo and Narcissus, it can be seen that Sybil is a mirror image Echo, in that she was deeply obsessed over Narcissus (Dorian) and when the nymph (Sybil) came to reveal herself, she was harshly rejected and sent back to the mountains, heartbroken and faded away until nothing was left, and in this case Sybil committed suicide and her importance faded away., as compared to the tale of Echo and Narcissus.

Nemesis, in the myth, rewarded Narcissus back by making him become transfixed with his reflection, becoming obsessed with it and ultimately ending up killing himself due to not having what he most desired, his reflection (himself) . Dorian’s fate is similar in that he became obsessed with his portrait (himself) , believing that his current state depended on the state of the actual painting, in that he would continually check on it and would do anything to prevent the destruction and deterioration painting, but as time passed on, he realized it was futile and ended up slashing the painting with a knife, believing that it would end his continual torture, ultimately tearing apart the most vital fragment of his self-centered being, and it essentially removes all meaning in life for him since the painting was his reason and motivation for living. So by slashing the painting, the painting had become completely deteriorated, meaning that, in essence, Dorian killed the last remaining piece of himself. When analyzing Wilde’s book it can be seen that he meant to inject the theme of narcissism within the book as it was very prominent at the time in Victorian England, with himself being one as well. The story is mostly formatted on the Greek Myth of Narcissus with other characters based on the personalities of Oscar Wilde.(Basil Hallward, Lord Henry). In this story, Nemesis, can be compared to the ideas of time and fate, in which those constructs were what delivered punishment.

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Dorian Gray and his inner narcissism. (2021, Oct 20). Retrieved from