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Word Count: 2,373
The depictions of Dorian the young Adonis in The Picture of Dorian Gray and of Kurtz the universal genius in Heart of Darkness leads one to question the effects of society on man does civilisation help or hinder morality Although many critics have argued the former there is much evidence which shows that elements within society have detrimental effects on the two protagonists I believe that the deterioration the men experience is a result of characteristics that develop in society namely greed and vanity Both novels present society as a conglomeration of self-righteous and immoral people who despite pretences of philanthropy idolise corruption and mystery Encouraged by the influences surrounding them the two men revel in sin eventually corrupting themselves and in many cases their companions The superficiality of society is an idea explored in both novels and is a concept that is helpful in analysing its effects on humanity In The Picture of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde gives us a clear illustration of so-called civilised society Its shallow nature is exemplified in peoples judgement of Dorian for whom whispered scandals only increasedhis strange and dangerous charm For them his great wealth was a certain element of security as they are never ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich and fascinating As Lord Henry Wotton the immoral Prince Paradox who plays a key role in corrupting Dorian articulates they are more cunning than practical When they make up their ledger they balance stupidity by wealth and vice by hypocrisy Initially Dorian like his contemporaries attributes great importance to appearance It should have the dignity of a ceremony as well as its unreality and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us These are the lines along which good society supposedly functions and by which the reader as well as Dorian himself become disillusioned so that ugliness
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