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Thread: Lord Henry

  1. #16
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Again, SPOILERS below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Isn't that something he preached to Dorian; the ability to separate such emotions from life's actions?
    Yes, and it is something that Wilde preaches...art for art's sake. I realize that Wilde didn't believe in "moral" or "immoral" art, but that doesn't mean that we as readers cannot interpret them as moral or immoral characters. And if you take these characters out of the context of this fictional story, wouldn't you say most of them are pretty despicable? All of them are bent on using others for their own selfish goals. Lord Henry uses Dorian as his own personal experiment, Dorian uses Sybil and then tosses her away when she becomes too "real", even Basil uses Dorian to some extent, and then Dorian murders Basil. You can't tell me we're supposed admire these kind of people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neely
    I mean how long should he be expected to mourn for the likes of Sybil and Basil?
    You mean, how can the pompous Lord Henry possibly mourn for the innocent lives his protege ruined (or ended)? Sybil and Basil may both be silly and naive, but they are human...something that Lord Henry doesn't seem to care about.
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  2. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Wilde woman View Post
    Again, SPOILERS below.



    Yes, and it is something that Wilde preaches...art for art's sake. I realize that Wilde didn't believe in "moral" or "immoral" art, but that doesn't mean that we as readers cannot interpret them as moral or immoral characters. And if you take these characters out of the context of this fictional story, wouldn't you say most of them are pretty despicable? All of them are bent on using others for their own selfish goals. Lord Henry uses Dorian as his own personal experiment, Dorian uses Sybil and then tosses her away when she becomes too "real", even Basil uses Dorian to some extent, and then Dorian murders Basil. You can't tell me we're supposed admire these kind of people.



    You mean, how can the pompous Lord Henry possibly mourn for the innocent lives his protege ruined (or ended)? Sybil and Basil may both be silly and naive, but they are human...something that Lord Henry doesn't seem to care about.
    That's all quite true, based upon their actions out of the context of the novel, they are not particularly nice people, Dorian especially, however I can't help but to feel something for them particularly Lord Henry. He just seems so above the ordinary that for me he somehow gets away with it all. I can tell you don't agree but that's how I seem to feel about him.

    I think that there might be a sort of in-joke going on with Sybil too, possibly, are we being reminded by Wilde here that she is literally not real - she's just a character in a story? I don't know it is a suggestion that I have read about somewhere which seems to work on some level. Of course in this sense neither is Lord Henry real, but the Vane family in particular are made to sound unreal and melodramatic that the possible suggestion is we shouldn't really care for them. Sybil for me certainly comes across as a two dimensional character. Some critics point out that this is a fault of Wilde, but I am not so sure, I'm inclined to believe that their two dimensional quality is down to the former to some degree.

    With Lord Henry not caring about the feelings of others, I only see him following his own philosophy; the philosophy he preaches to Dorian. To what we are used to his actions come across as extremely harsh but he's right really in a sense, Sybil is dead and mourning for her is pointless on some level. I'm not saying that I take this stance personally of course, but Lord Henry for me has a point here that on some level I can't seem to shake off. I don't for a minute believe that Wilde himself took this line either, for he was far too much of a caring and thoughful individual to do so, but I do think that Lord Henry's approach to life (and death) is an interesting study at least.

  3. #18
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    I have not finished the book yet but thus far I have to say I rather like Lord Henry. He is something whom I would find quite interesting and fascinating to talk to. I do not agree with many of his ideas, but I find them thoroughly intriguing to listen to, and there are points in which I do find myself in agreeance with Lord Henry.

    I cannot hold Lord Henry responsible for Dorian's own actions, and I think Dorian proves that he is not completely ruled by Lord Henry's influence, though he may be enamored by Lord Henry, he does still have much of his own mind. As when in direct opposition to Lord Henry's advice he set out to marry Sybil originally.

    Thus Dorian clearly acts upon his own will, when he does the things he does, and is not merely a puppet of Lord Henry's. In addition is the fact that Dorian is self-aware that Lord Henry's ideas and influence are not what one might consider positive. Dorian acknowledges the fact that Basil is the better person between the two, thus, he is not being simply blindly led, for he can see the truth for what it is, and makes the choose to live a selfish hedonistic life-style, because he knows or thinks that he has a free pass because the portrait will bare all the burden of everything he does.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #19
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Yes, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one, Neely. Just curious: do you feel similarly about Dorian? It's interesting to me that so many of us feel such affection towards Lord Henry, when the true hero of the story is Dorian. I wonder if we would feel the same way if there were a revisionist text written from Lord Henry's point of view.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Sybil for me certainly comes across as a two dimensional character. Some critics point out that this is a fault of Wilde, but I am not so sure, I'm inclined to believe that their two dimensional quality is down to the former to some degree.
    Agreed. Poor Sybil was never meant to be a true love interest for Dorian; she was simply a tool used to advance the plot. For the most part, Wilde made her two-dimensional (just look at her name!) to make the point that Dorian can only love someone so theatrical that she cannot survive in the real world.
    Ecce quam bonum et jocundum, habitares libros in unum!
    ~Robert Greene, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay

  5. #20
    Registered User Sebas. Melmoth's Avatar
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    There are two versions of The Picture of Dorian Gray: the original Lippincott's version (1890), and the later bound edition (1891).

    Wilde made numerous small changes for the bound edition.

    Prefer the original version found in the superb Norton Critical Edition:

    http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Dorian...3839242&sr=1-2

  6. #21
    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    Lord Henry seems to me to be a product of his time. What would he have been like if he could have been rich in the village in the 60's?

    No, I do not believe that one can hold Lord Henry responsible for Dorian's corruption. Dorian's character evolves as the plot thickens. When he was younger he may have been easily seduced, but as he ages, he develops into Lord Henry's ideal. This character development, I believe, was always a part of Dorian waiting to emerge. If it had not been Lord Henry's influence it probably would have been someone else. That is, if Dorian had been a real person.

    Lord Henry has a lovely philosophy about life and I know many people like him and I do love them so! When one actually thinks about his life he lived as described by Wilde, he lived quite honestly and talked a good game. He attended lunch parties, dinner parties, and ate at the club. Again, I think this is a character with too much leisure.

    Do I like him? No. Would I talk to him at a party? Maybe. But I would definitely get into trouble with him.

  7. #22
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    Lord Henry is supposed to be like the Devil in the faust legend who corrupts faustus with hedonism (or some philosophy like it). Oscar Wilde made Lord Henry's character so well that he tricks a majority of the readers into thinking he's a character otherwise, in fact sometimes the opposite. He was intended to be a wart.
    Last edited by Cunninglinguist; 05-16-2010 at 11:16 AM.

  8. #23
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    Is this poll supposed to be a joke or some kind of trick question? I don't see the difference between a polished aristocrat and a wart.

  9. #24
    Just curious: do you feel similarly about Dorian?
    I don't really know how I feel about Dorian, neutral I suppose, or less so. I certainly think that Lord Henry is by far the most interesting character in the novel even though he is missing from the story a lot at times. In fact I think that the novel suffers because of Lord Henry's absence in the novel and we could have done with more of his involvement at times. It's not that I find Dorian uninteresting or badly constructed, it is just at the side of Lord Henry his is easily over-shadowed and as we watch Dorian's actions throughout the course of the novel, I still think that we can feel the pull of Lord Henry in action. For example when Dorian speaks to lord Henry's wife Margaret (I think?) we are reminded through her that he does so using secondary expressions she has previously heard from Henry. In effect then Dorian becomes a sort of pale imitation of Lord Henry in many respects.

    Agreed. Poor Sybil was never meant to be a true love interest for Dorian; she was simply a tool used to advance the plot.
    Yes I think so.

    Prefer the original version found in the superb Norton Critical Edition:

    http://www.amazon.com/Picture-Dorian...3839242&sr=1-2
    Oh. Most critics seem to think that the updated version is far superior to the Lippincott's version. I've noted the differences, but I've never read the magazine edition, though I've been meaning to give it a read for a while.

    No, I do not believe that one can hold Lord Henry responsible for Dorian's corruption.
    I'd agree essentially. He started the ball rolling but Dorian steered his own course of action in the end.

    Lord Henry is supposed to be like the Devil in the faust legend who corrupts faustus with hedonism (or some philosophy like it). Oscar Wilde made Lord Henry's character so well that he tricks a majority of the readers into thinking he's a character otherwise, in fact sometimes the opposite.
    I think you could read it as such certainly, but Dorian becomes his own Devil in the end and is someone who is far worse than Lord Henry ever was.

  10. #25
    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    "He was intended to be a wart."
    Agreed.

  11. #26
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    Lord Henry is the greatest character of the novel! He does not corrupt Dorian, rather he shows him his options, Dorian corrupts himself due to his lose of self-control. Henry showed him hedonism, not murder, which Dorian commits latter on. Blaming Lord Henry for Dorians faults is viewing Dorian as passive in his life...we are not passive in our lives, we are the active participants. Blaming others for the way things pan out in our lives in unrationale. Thus Dorian had a corrupted nature by default, the blame should not lie on Lord Henry.

  12. #27
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexander III View Post
    Lord Henry is the greatest character of the novel! He does not corrupt Dorian, rather he shows him his options, Dorian corrupts himself due to his lose of self-control. Henry showed him hedonism, not murder, which Dorian commits latter on. Blaming Lord Henry for Dorians faults is viewing Dorian as passive in his life...we are not passive in our lives, we are the active participants. Blaming others for the way things pan out in our lives in unrationale. Thus Dorian had a corrupted nature by default, the blame should not lie on Lord Henry.
    Very well said! Dorian is shown two different paths in life. He is shown hedonism by Lord Henry, but he is also shown a life of stricter morality by Basil.

    Dorian chooses for himself the road he wishes to take, and he is corrupted more by his own vanity than he is by Lord Henry and he ultimately takes the ideas of Lord Henry to the extreme, Lord Henry is not responsible for this.

    And I do not think that Lord Henry would find the criminal life which Dorian turns to, to be very atheistically appealing, and that is above all what Lord Henry cares for, that which he finds to be "artful" he worships beauty, and Dorian ultimately turning away from the beauty around him because he becomes blinded by his own perceived external beauty and he becomes fascinated by the evolving ugliness of the portrait, which leads him to turn to living an ugly life.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  13. #28
    My first impression of him, to put it bluntly, was that of a smartass, albeit an intelligent one. Much of his logic is flawed yet he manages to make them sound convincing. He is like the Aizen of Literary characters, which is not a compliment.
    Last edited by King James; 11-01-2010 at 07:49 PM.

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