How does Wilde show both the attractions and dangers of
hedonism in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'?
1 Lord Henry tells Dorian of all the exciting things hedonism gives,
this then attracts Dorian to live a more hedonistic life
1.1 Lord Henry makes Dorian so inclined to impress this
person he has just met that he goes through with
these frowned-on activities
1.1.1 Dorian thus believes in order to become fully perfect he must carry
out these hedonistic activities
18.104.22.168 'action is a mode of purification'
1.2 'if one man were to love out his life fully and completely...the world
would gain such a fresh impulse of joy'
1.3 From a Freudian perspective, Lord Henry is seen as the Id character,
drawing Dorian into pleasurable acts without thinking about the
consequences or the harms to others. He shows the attraction to
hedonism. On the other hand, Basil can be seen as the Superego character,
and the two are creating conflict in Dorian which ultimately leads to dorian
choosing the Id.
2 One of the morals that this book portrays is that if one commits these sorts of wrong-doings, then one should be punished.
2.1 It can be noted that the ending signifies the
total destruction that the conflict between
hedonism and morality has caused.
2.2 The painting, painted by Dorian's moral influence is the object that signifies beauty and aestheticism. The painting is
destroyed by means of hedonism and physically broken by the true hedonist: Dorian.
2.2.1 Some people see the ending as a farewell to everything that had made Dorian who he was at that point, and
that Dorian intended to kill himself and leave the painting as it was in the first place. Perhaps Wilde is
suggesting that the idea of aestheticism was stronger in Dorian Gray than hedonism and therefore the
aestheticism receded back to its original place after being taken over by immorality.
22.214.171.124 'His beauty was to him but a mask'
126.96.36.199.1 Maybe his suicide was just his final and most destructive
hedonistic act and he had no means to change and moralise?
188.8.131.52 'It would kill this monstrous soul-life'
184.108.40.206.1 He knew he was nothing but a
monster, so by killing the monstrous
soul, it would kill his whole soul
220.127.116.11 'Was he always to be burdened by his past?'
18.104.22.168.1 Dorian knows that even if he cures himself of all immorality society would still see him
for who he was and he would carry on living with the pain of his previous life