Because Dorian’s soul does not reside in his body, but in a portrait, he experiences a number of curious circumstances. First, Dorian’s body does not age. It remains the same as it was on the day that he wished his soul into the picture in Basil’s studio. Neither does his lifestyle leave any mark on his body. Such extravagant and often sinful habits as were indulged by Dorian should show some sign of their passing, but he is excepted. Wilde takes care to tell his readers that Dorian has “changed, of course, but not in appearance” (221). It is the portrait that bears the marks of this abuse. Any change – either as a result of age or of sin – becomes part of the portrait.
Dorian, easily fascinated and influenced, becomes enthralled with tracking the changes of his portrait. Before the first change, Dorian’s portrait is beautiful; it looks as pure and perfect as its ...
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... deed? Or the desire of a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted,… or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these” (227). Before looking into the face of his soul, Dorian truly believes that he is reforming and starting to be good to rectify his sins. Once he sees that what he thought was goodness was really only “cunning” and “hypocrit[ical],” he understands that he had passed a point of no return, and that there was no chance for him to save his soul.
Like many stories, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray has a moral, a greater point. Wilde’s message about the relationship between the body, mind, and soul is simple, but important: the body is the vehicle for the mind, which is the vehicle for the soul. This is the “natural order” of things, and Wilde shows that it should not be contested.
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