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Thread: Dorian Grey&Why Devil didn't play his key role?

  1. #1
    Rima rima's Avatar
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    Dorian Grey&Why Devil didn't play his key role?

    I just posted my first blog here.I can't say it is a Review of the book,i call it Abstract and i wrote a few already on my favorite masterpieces.
    My review is named
    *Dorian Grey&A Conversation with Oscar Wilde*
    I don't know if you asked yourself why Mr.Wilde didn't give the Devil an active role in his novele-i think Devil was not present as a character who take part in events.
    Goethe and Mikhail Bulgakov gave Devil a key role to act from the very beginning of their works.
    i would like to know your thinking on this theme.

    To read my abstract,please visit my blog here.

    If i posted this on wrong place,then a thread could be :What is your thinking about Abstracts?
    How do you like my writing and what do you think about such method of expression?

  2. #2
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    The devil is there, since Faust is there, but he is rather hidden, and quite obscure. He doesn't act so much as a character, but as more of an element, hovering over the story, up until the climax.

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    Yeah, Wilde was considerable more skeptical than Goethe. Giving the Devil an active role would change his novel in many levels. First he would move the "evil" from the human moral element, second, the novel is in many ways a precussor of the upcoming magic realism. Placing Devil could just turn in a fantastic novel from all points of views unless Wilde could pull out the psychological narrative of Thomas Mann, which I think he could not.

  4. #4
    The “devil” plays an inactive role within the novel because we never know for sure if it is the devil who gives Dorian his eternal youth. It seems likely that this is so, but how Doran gained his eternal youth is entirely secondary as to what he does with it, and what this entails.

    I wish I had longer to discuss this subject but I am very busy at present, weighed down in work I’m afraid.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    The “devil” plays an inactive role within the novel because we never know for sure if it is the devil who gives Dorian his eternal youth. It seems likely that this is so, but how Doran gained his eternal youth is entirely secondary as to what he does with it, and what this entails.

    I wish I had longer to discuss this subject but I am very busy at present, weighed down in work I’m afraid.
    That's a shame, what you had so far was very interesting to read. I've read Dorian Grey and unfortunately have remained ignorant until this point about these aspects of the novel.

    But, this is why I come to online-literature forums!

  6. #6
    (To clarify: Since the devil does not make an appearance in Dorian Grey, I did not move beyond face value of Wilde's text to consider his [devil's] presence nonetheless.)

  7. #7
    escape reality rimbaud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Yeah, Wilde was considerable more skeptical than Goethe. Giving the Devil an active role would change his novel in many levels. First he would move the "evil" from the human moral element, second, the novel is in many ways a precussor of the upcoming magic realism. Placing Devil could just turn in a fantastic novel from all points of views unless Wilde could pull out the psychological narrative of Thomas Mann, which I think he could not.
    I agree, the devil is in all of us, Wilde doesn't have to give him his own character
    One is enough to destroy himself
    Touched by Genius. Cursed by Madness. Blinded by Love.

  8. #8
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Not to be rude, but Wilde isn't Goethe.

    I think Wilde was trying to move away from a strictly Christian interpretation. Since we all know the story of Faust, I think we're pre-programmed to just automatically assume Dorian sold his soul to the Devil. But there's little in the actual text that supports that. Whether or not it's the Devil that gives Dorian his eternal youth, the story is about Dorian's psychological decline - not some supernatural scare tactics.

    I really truly think you can discuss the book without bringing questions of God and the Devil into it. I think one of the reasons Dorian Gray is such a great novel is because it's one of the earliest to show the sort of internal conflict and psychological decay that marks modern novels. The Devil is NOT Dorian's enemy; Dorian is Dorian's enemy.

    Or, if you insist on seeing a Devil figure in the novel, I think you can look no further than Lord Henry. After all, one reading of the novel is that Dorian's decline is Lord Henry's fault. He's the bad influence that first makes Dorian realize his own beauty...giving him his vanity. Dorian is addicted to the man, even though he knows that Lord Henry isn't the best moral compass. I believe there are a few passages where Lord Henry is described in devil-like terms.

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    I'm tired Bancini's Avatar
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    I just finished the book. There was a time where I would not have been shocked if Lord Henry had been revealed as the devil.

    However, inclusion of the devil seems to validate Christianity. While I don't know Wilde well, that would seem out of character in this book.

  10. #10
    I'm tired Bancini's Avatar
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    Lord Henry in the role typically assigned to the devil also shows that humans do not need the devil in order to find evil

  11. #11
    spiritus ubi vult spirat weltanschauung's Avatar
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    the devil isnt there because the devil is a metaphorical figure. dorian's mind was supposedly opened by the admiration of basil and the tempting words of lord henry.
    and lord henry isnt evil, he is by far the wisest character in the book, the superego of the trinity, and wisdom is often seen as wickedness, since it is the general consensus that passivity, submission (and non-acknowledged hypocrisy) are traits of virtue.
    dorian gave away his soul for eternal beauty, and that was the symbol for his commitment with himself to place the search for beauty in all its forms as the most important aspect in his life. ironically, in his endless pursuit for beauty he ends up transforming himself into a revolting monster, and his experiences into cruel and filthy living nightmares, which is the clue we get to profess that his concepts of beauty are flawed. human, all too human.

  12. #12
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weltanschauung View Post
    and lord henry isnt evil, he is by far the wisest character in the book, the superego of the trinity, and wisdom is often seen as wickedness, since it is the general consensus that passivity, submission (and non-acknowledged hypocrisy) are traits of virtue.
    Are you arguing that Lord Henry is a morally good character? I'd have to disagree with that...if he isn't evil (and that's a big if), then the best I could say it that he has no morals or that he's morally neutral. Whether or not that makes him wise, as you claim, is another story.

    Whenever I think of Lord Henry, I always think of the the Deists' clockmaker-God. (Anyone else?) In other words, Lord Henry simply sets something in motion - in this case by revealing to Dorian his own beauty - and then steps away to observe the results. He's just like a scientist - objective, rational, observant - but the problem is that the consequences of his setting-in-motion is that Dorian becomes vain, corrupt, and eventually kills himself.

    Whether or not Lord Henry is to blame for Dorian's downfall is the big question. On the one hand, he's just doing what a scientist does, changing some variable in the experiment and observing how it changes the outcome. That's not necessarily evil per se. But the fact is that he's experimenting human emotions and ultimately human lives. When he sees Dorian smoking, doing opium, lying and cheating to his friends, ruining their reputations, he doesn't stop what he's doing, but continues in the same vein. So IMO, if we argue that he's evil, it's because he has absolutely no compassion for Dorian's degrading life.

    If we decide that Lord Henry is not evil or at all culpable for Dorian's downfall, then are we saying that it's Dorian that's evil? Or at least it is completely Dorian's fault that he commits decidedly evil acts? Seems to me it's either one or the other. Either Lord Henry is evil (or guilty, if we don't want to use the E-word) or Dorian is. Thoughts?

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    Rima rima's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Dorian transformed his personality after meeting with Lord henry

    If we decide that Lord Henry is not evil or at all culpable for Dorian's downfall, then are we saying that it's Dorian that's evil? Or at least it is completely Dorian's fault that he commits decidedly evil acts? Seems to me it's either one or the other. Either Lord Henry is evil (or guilty, if we don't want to use the E-word) or Dorian is. Thoughts?[/QUOTE]

    You made a good point:in the beginning of the book there is no allusions that Dorian Gray has features he evinces after meeting with Lord Henry.It is very important fact:refer us to Lord Henry/hidden devil/ implanted *seeds*of Evil to Dorian./
    We could for sure say Dorian transformed his personality after meeting with Lord Henry.
    What do you think?

    There are many great comments on this thread
    I write Abstracts&Reviews on favorite Masterpieces.The main theme is quest for grail of eternal Youth.I won old age.
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  14. #14
    I'm tired Bancini's Avatar
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    I didn't see it as only one of them being evil. I don't consider Henry innocent despite Basil's statement "You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing."

    Basil is naive. Henry knows what might happen with Dorian. I would lean towards he wants Dorian to become evil but he is at the very least indifferent to Dorian's potential fall. That makes Henry a dark figure for me, but does not make Dorian innocent.

    Some people want to call Dorian a victim. I'm not convinced. Though even if he is a victim, he is a willing one.

  15. #15
    precious... subterranean's Avatar
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    I think Henry contributes to Dorian's fall by manipulating him with words which aren't true. The way he always refers Dorian as flawless and perfect, even when Dorian thinks negatively towards himself, suggests that Henry wants Dorian to think and feel that there's absolutely nothing wrong with him.


    "there are people in the world so hungry that God can not appear to them except in the form of bread"

    Mahatma Gandhi

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