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Word Count: 1,162
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is the story of moral corruption by the means of aestheticism In the novel the well-meaning artist Basil Hallward presets young Dorian Gray with a portrait of himself After conversing with cynical Lord Henry Wotton Dorian makes a wish which dreadfully affects his life forever If it were I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old For that I would give everything Yes there is nothing in the whole world I would not give I would give my soul for that Wilde 109 As it turns out the devil that Dorian sells his soul to is Lord Henry Wotton who exists not only as something external to Dorian but also as a voice within him Dorian continues to lead a life of sensuality which he learns about in a book given to him by Lord Henry Dorians unethical devotion to pleasure becomes his way of life The novel underscores its disapproval of aestheticism which negatively impacts the main characters Each of the three primary characters is an aesthete and meets some form of terrible personal doom Basil Hallwards aestheticism is manifested in his dedication to his artistic creations He searches in the outside world for the perfect manifestation of his own soul when he finds this object he can create masterpieces by painting it He refuses to display the portrait of Dorian Gray with the explanation that I have put too much of myself into it He further demonstrates the extent to which he holds this philosophy by later stating that only the artist is truly reveled Lord Henry Wotton criticizes Basil Hallward that An artist should create beautiful things but should put nothing of his own life into them Ironically the purpose of Basil Hallwards existence is that he is an aesthete striving to become one with his art It is this very work of art which Basil refuses
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