Examining The Nature of Evil in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde and "Down A Dark Hall" by Lois Duncan

Examining The Nature of Evil in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde and "Down A Dark Hall" by Lois Duncan

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“The line between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone
can be induced to cross it when pressured by situational forces.”


In order to eliminate evil and corruption, one must fully understand the systematic way in which they operate. By examining the behaviour of corrupt and corruptible people, it is possible to deduce the very nature of evil. In The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Down A Dark Hall by Lois Duncan, Dorian Gray and Kit Gordy are exposed to evil and soon corrupted. The development and debasement of both protagonists epitomizes the effects which evil can have on an individual. The evil rapidly manifests into an uncontrollable pressure to act immorally and reveals its malicious disposition internally, while externally, the characters retain their youthful conditions. Ultimately, the two become cognizant of their corruption and confront the evil in an attempt to seek redemption and extricate themselves from the constant pain resulting in very different outcomes.

The nature of evil is to subvert the rectitude and integrity of its subjects through corruption, a slow process to which both characters succumb. Dorian Gray’s corruption is situational and based on his coincidental encounter with Lord Henry. Despite his friend’s warnings to be cautious of Lord Henry, Dorian is not deterred and continues to spend time with his new acquaintance. His fascination with Lord Henry’s cynical perspective causes him to willfully be subjected to Lord Henry’s bias. He accepts an invitation to a dinner party where through witty remarks and carefully selected words, Lord Henry slowly demoralizes him: “He charmed his listeners out of themselves, and they followed his pipe laughing. Dorian Gray ne...

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...s unable to improve his condition. Conversely, Kit finds redemption by openly expressing her penitence and actively seeking reparation.

After witnessing the large transformation in both Dorian and Kit, it is clear that evil is a powerful force quite capable of distorting a person’s morality. It constantly contrives ways to corrupt an individual and waits for the right opportunity to manifest itself. Both Dorian and Kit demonstrate that the struggle to fight corruption has varied outcomes based on the characteristics of the individual and the conditions and circumstances of the situation. Instead of allowing this process to operate without hindrance, one must contest it so as not to arrive at the same fate as Dorian but rather be able to acquire redemption like Kit. The most important fact for consideration is that one cannot live an evil life unscathed.

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