Understanding the Secretive Life of Characters in The Picture of Dorian Gray

In The Image of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde writes of a gorgeous young man with an unsightly trick. While Dorian Gray will permanently keep the innocent looks of his youth, his picture will degenerate with every wrong he commits. Unburdened and unmarked by his corruption, Dorian acts as he wills, performing various offensive acts that he must never expose. Throughout the novel, Wilde explores the style of the power of secrecy, of which Dorian is just one example. In addition to driving Dorian to hideous crimes, secrecy also wields massive influence over all the major characters. It determines their relations to each other, is the inspiration behind their actions, and even identifies their death hour.

Secrecy is the foundation of all romantic relationships in the book. “When one is in love, one constantly starts by deceiving oneself, and one constantly ends by deceiving others” (Wilde, 197). Of marriage, Lord Henry states: “the one charm of marital relationship is that it makes a life of deception absolutely essential for both parties” (Wilde, 143). Though Lord Henry’s assertions are constantly skeptical, it does appear that his other half Victoria understands very little about him. “I always hear Harry’s view from his good friends. It is the only way I are familiar with of them” (Wilde, 190). Dorian’s relationship with Sybil Vane is certainly no exception. Dorian falls in love not with her, however with the characters she transforms into on phase. “Never … is she Sibyl Vane” (Wilde, 200). Nevertheless, when she exposes her real self to Dorian and acts badly, Dorian is furious with disappointment. “You have eliminated my love … You have spoiled the love of my life” (Wilde, 237). It appears that before Sybil reveals her true nature, Dorian can elegant her as he wants, and think her to be any terrible heroine of Shakespeare’s creating. Nevertheless, when she reveals herself to be nothing but an ignorant kid, she kills all his possibilities of fantasy. “You used to stir my imagination. Now you do not even stir my interest” (Wilde, 236). Dorian dissolves the relationship when there is no longer the fantasy and secret created by the secrecy of Sybil’s true nature.

In addition to romantic relations, secrecy acts as a binding force for all the characters in the novel. Initially, Dorian is accepted among high society since no one knows of his real nature. They think in his innocent face and believe him charming beyond procedure, totally oblivious to his secret corruption. Nevertheless, as reports flow of his immoral methods, “these whispered scandals just increased in the eyes of numerous, his odd and hazardous beauty” (Wilde, 299). They are aware that he leads a secret life of criminal activity, but understand little of the information. Thus they are even more thinking about him since his secrecy gives him a certain allure, a certain aura of mystery.

However, the discovery of these tricks marks completion of these relations. For those who only hear rumors of Dorian’s crimes, his secrecy includes a specific appeal to his character. Nevertheless, those who have complete understanding of his corruptions, “those who had actually been most intimate with him appeared … to avoid him” (Wilde, 299). When among Dorian’s secrets is revealed, they are forced to face the truth of his character, which is anything however captivating. They are no longer drawn to him because they have seen his soul in its naked, wicked form, which leaves no possibility for anything pleasant. Dorian is aware of the need of concealing the details of his secrets, becoming ever so paranoid lest anybody should discover the painting, fearing that once the trick is revealed, he would lose all his buddies and relations. “You (Lord Henry) don’t understand whatever about me. I think that if you did, even you would turn from me” (Wilde, 394).

The clearest demonstration of both the destination and finality of secrecy can be seen in Alan Campbell. As Dorian starts to inform him about Basil’s murder, Alan refuses to hear any longer. “Stop, Gray. I do not need to know anything even more … I entirely decrease to be mixed up in your life” (Wilde, 328). This recommends that Alan realizes that knowledge of his secrets would surely draw him to Dorian and intertwine their lives once again, simply as others are drawn to his mysteriousness. Nevertheless, he is blackmailed by Dorian into assisting him rid the proof of the murder. The narrative does not give details of this exchange, but it can be assumed that the letter Dorian composes and threatens to send out would expose some secret of Alan’s. However, after he performs the monstrous deed, he shoots himself one night in his lab, unable to bear the problem of what has now ended up being both his and Dorian’s trick. Hence, indirectly, his understanding of Dorian’s secrets, and Dorian’s knowledge of his, not only ends their current relationship but likewise eliminates any possibility for such in the future.

All the significant characters of the book are explained in relation to their tricks. For instance, Basil is presented as an artist oddly and privately drawn to Dorian. Lord Henry is defined by his secret motive to experiment with Dorian. It can for that reason be stated that these secrets not just identify, however likewise take control over the actions of these characters in the novel. Thus it would appear natural that secrecy holds the crucial to the life of its bearer. The unveiling of one’s secret represents his death. When Dorian threatens to expose Alan Campbell’s trick, Alan “felt as if his heart was beating itself to death in some empty hollow” (Wilde, 332). He has little choice however to comply with Dorian’s needs due to the fact that of the hazard that is postured to his life. The importance of secrecy now ends up being a significant factor in his decisions and actions. Likewise, when Basil suggests different methods to discharge Dorian of the corruption that the painting depicts– an effort to remove Dorian’s secret, Dorian suddenly erupts with “the mad enthusiasms of a hunted animal” (Wilde, 319). The contrast to the hunted animal recommends that Basil is an excellent hazard to Dorian’s life. His desire to rid him of his secrets poses a hazard to his very presence. Confronted with Basil’s threat to his trick and his life, Dorian has no option however to murder him, again performing what secrecy demands of him.

Maybe the very best example of the sign of death as an unveiling of secrecy lies in Dorian’s own death. Hoping to “eliminate the past” and remove all his secret sins, he stabs the image (Wilde, 390). Nevertheless, instead of killing the photo and releasing himself from all the secrets it holds, he instead eliminates himself, and ends up being significant by his own corruption while the image is absolved. This change can be viewed as an unveiling of his trick. The depravity of his soul, which has been concealed by the painting for so long, finally reveals through his remains. Dorian Gray’s death accompanies the direct exposure of his secret criminality.

However, even this unveiling of Dorian’s most significant secret can be viewed as another way in which the secret is propagating. From beginning to end, the text is a revelation of a series of secrets, however each discovery is changed by another secret. Dorian’s whole life is an effort to hide something, but that something is constantly changing. Initially he covers his involvement in Sybil Vane’s death. Upon finding the trick of the portrait, he locks it inside the attic. He lies about his bad credibility to Basil, only later on to expose to him his soul. He murders him and tries to remove all proof of it. The list continues. Even in death, his secrecy continues. Though the corruption of Dorian’s soul will be visible for the world to see, the trick of the portrait, along with the details of his death, will forever remain a secret to others. The transformation of the corpse and the portrait develops even more mystery surrounding Dorian Gray. In the end, when Dorian chooses to do away with the portrait that holds all his secrets, the secrets appears to wield power over him, and decline the end picked by their bearer. Even in his death, his tricks seem to propagate.

Though Lord Henry remains in no way an exceptional character, it needs to be stated that he is a very clever one. He is the only character in the novel who understands the operations of secrets. Initially, he controls Dorian into opening to him entirely. “You could not have assisted informing me, Dorian. All through your life you will inform me whatever you do” (Wilde, 197). Nevertheless, after having actually achieved this goal, he pulls back, and soon becomes unconcerned to Dorian’s affairs. When Dorian informs him that he’s killed Basil, he responds: “you were posturing for a character that does not suit you … It is not in you, Dorian, to devote a murder” (Wilde, 379). Lord Henry appears to care little about the information of one’s secrets, but just chooses to penetrate enough to make life a little more fascinating. Unlike Sybil, who exposes too much of her trick too soon, unlike Basil, who digs too deeply, and unlike Alan and Dorian, who decline to acknowledge secrecy’s perpetual presence, Lord Henry lets secrecy take its own course. Thus he is the just major character in the book who escapes disaster.

In The Image of Dorian Gray, secrecy represents a driving force behind many elements of the book. Secrecy appears to have a life of its own, and control the relations, actions, as well as the presence, of its bearers. In the opening pages of the unique, Wilde composes that “secrecy appears to be the something that can make contemporary life mystical or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is wonderful if one just hides it” (Wilde, 143). This certainly seems to hold true throughout the novel. It is secrecy that draws numerous to Dorian Gray and heightens his appeals. However, as secrets are exposed, individuals retreat from him because he no longer creates interest or mystery. In addition to giving seduction for the characters in the unique, it also works in the very same way towards the readers. Therefore secrecy needs to always regenerate itself, even at the cost of casualty to the characters to keep readers’ interest.

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