Essay On Monstrosity In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

1198 Words5 Pages
Monstrosity is not just defined by disfigurement, but also by the actions and obsessions of man. Most, if not all, tales of monsters often came about as exaggerations of sins and immoral actions. Others see men who become too obsessed with the idea of overstepping their own humanity and playing God as monsters in society. Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray reflect this idea. While the painting and the creation mirror the monstrous nature and the sin Gray and Frankenstein enact throughout the course of each novel, both Dorian Gray and Victor Frankenstein are the true monsters. Victor Frankenstein’s obsession for creating life pushes him over the edge between monstrosity and humanity. He feels that “life and death [are] ideal bounds,…show more content…
He wishes to remain beautifully immortal through the use of his painting. The effects of watching his own sins corrupt the painting causes Gray to perish by his own hand. Richard Ellmann called Gray’s predicament “the ‘tragedy of aestheticism’” (Ruddick 1). Throughout the novel, Gray pursues what Lord Henry calls, the “divine right of sovereignty” (Wilde 26), or rather beauty. What Lord Henry believes and later Gray believes is that there is nothing on this Earth worth living for if it is devoid of beauty. This idolization of mundane ideas and the belief that Gray can overcome his humanity through the use of the painting causes Gray to perish as a result of his own monstrosity. The turn in Wilde’s novel is when Gray realizes he can remain beautiful regardless of the immoral actions he indulges in. He considers himself exempt from the moral constraints ordinary men face. Gray’s monstrousness stems from his own desire to remain immortally beautiful contradictory to God’s desires and plans. This overstepping of his humanity is where Gray goes wrong. Again, monstrosity can be defined as one who tries to gain divinity through…show more content…
That idea pushes both characters past the point of no return. Gray, believing in his own immortality, tests the strength of the magic in the art. The results are disastrous. Gray’s actions deform his soul, the image in the painting, and the image society has for him. Gray’s fear after seeing the painting again mirrors the artists desire to not display it: "the reason [he] will not exhibit th[e] picture is that [he is] afraid that [he has] shown in it the secret of [his] own soul" (Wilde 9). That fear is rightly assumed, because as the painting corrupts itself to mirror Gray’s actions, it further resembles the twisted and monstrous nature of his soul. Victor Frankenstein’s creature similarly reflects Frankenstein’s soul and his sins for others to see. The detest people show toward the creature also reflects the disgust one feels when faced with sin and corruption. These signs both show Frankenstein’s desire to become a god and his inability to complete that wish entirely. He isolates himself and cuts himself off from all human contact, causing a loss of emotion and an obsession for creating life to take over. Frankenstein continues to dabble in an art reserved for God, thus corrupting his soul. The result is the horrible, disfigured, and monstrous creation. Like the painting, the creature resembles Frankenstein’s true soul and
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