posted by Scott M at 2:29 PM
I think that this aspect of the novel is very intriguing. We spoke a lot about the possibilities Wilde was trying to share with his reader. One point that I think Jeff and I made into some sense was Basil’s role in Dorian’s life. He tries to say back and let him make his mistakes. He isn’t in Dorian’s face all the time constantly warning him of Lord Henry’s foul play. He gives him the option of failure (sin) and will be there when Dorian needs him. Lord Henry, on the other hand, is always telling Dorian what to do, and when he is wrong confronts him about it. This is much more fascinating to Dorian which is a kind of guilty pleasure. Lord Henry is constantly tempting Dorian to do and think harmful things, just as the devil would. Dorian is trapped with Basil on one shoulder, watching and waiting, and Lord Henry on the other constantly whispering into his ear.
The comparison of Basil to God, Lord Henry to the devil, and Dorian to mankind is a little extreme but very interesting. If these comparisons are true, the first meeting of Dorian and Lord Henry closely resembles what happened in the garden of Eden. God wanted Adam to stay away from the serpent and the tree, much like Basil did not want Dorian to meet Lord Henry. Once the meeting happened, however, Dorian (mankind) was doomed at this point. If Lord Henry is the devil and sin, then Basil is essentially waiting for Dorian to realize what is right and come back to him. There are a few reasons, however, why this comparison is extreme. First of all Lord Henry and Basil are friends. He wants nothing but good things for Basil and wants to help him get noticed for his art. It is also hard to call Basil a God figure because he really has just sat and painted and been disappointed when Dorian left to be with Lord Henry. He may display more "Godlike" characteristics later on but at this point it is hard to say he is all "good".
Well i agree with Levi that the comparison as a whole is a little extreme. I can see what connections can be made with Dorian being mankind and Lord Henry corrupting him as the "devil." But i still think that wilde wasn't comparing all the characters and symbolism on that level. I think Lord Henry can symbolize corruption but that doesnt mean that he is represents the devil.
I agree with the comparison of Basil to God, Lord Henry to the Devil, and Dorian to mankind. In the beginning of time, God gave mankind the freedom to do whatever they wanted. He warned them not to eat the fruit that he knew would corrupt them. Ultimately, the devil came and helped to develop enough curiosity that mankind could not resist corruption. In comparison, Basil gives Dorian the choice to stay with himself or go with Lord Henry. Basil also warns Dorian of Lord Henry just as God warned Adam and Eve of the corrupted fruit. The result is a corrupt Dorian Gray due to his curiosity in the speeches of Lord Henry.
I agree with Zach on his comparison of Basil as God, Lord Henry as the Devil, and Dorian as mankind. Even though Lord Henry doesn't think he influences the way Dorian acts, he does. Dorian would not have even thought twice about the paiting leaving an image of himself being young if Henry did not put that in his mind. So Lord Henry does act as "the devil" in getting Dorian to change his mind about things. Basil warned Dorian about Lord Henry, so that is like what God did to Adam and Eve in Genesis. So the comparison of these characters to the Devil, God, and mankind is somewhat similar.
I agree with levi and dave that this comparison is a little extreme. Even though its extreme, the comparison is accurate in a way. Lord Henry infulences Dorian and his views on things. He can see that he has the oppertunity to influence another person, and influences Dorian. Basil warned Dorian about lord henry about what he is doing. All in all, these comparisons are similar.
I think that I agree with Levi with the fact that the comparison is a little extreme, but I do think that some parallels can be drawn. I think that Basil does represent finding the good and the pure in Dorian while Lord Henry represents the temptation and the corruption. Basil creates this amazing piece of art for Dorian and sees only the best traits of him. On the other hand, Lord Henry represents the the part of Dorian that is decieving, FLAKY, and that gives in to temptation. And honestly I think that temptation and deceit often overshadow the good in mankind today, as it is shown in the book by Dorian.
I think that Wilde may have tried to create the ideas of God, Satan, and mankind in Basil, Lord Henry and Dorian, but I think he did so only to make his novel somewhat more acceptable to society. Most of society would choose Lord Henry as the obvious corrupter and as the "Devil". My question is, why would Wilde have "the Devil" be represented by someone who so clearly spouts Wilde's own ideas about life, Hedonism, Aestheticism, and so on? Wilde creates for us a realistic view of society, in which most of us would view Lord Henry as a corruptor, but in Wilde and Lord Henry's minds, Lord Henry is really the enlightener and teacher to Dorian.
When I read the book, I do like the image of devil on the shoulder vs. the angel but I wouldn't necessarily take it to that level of God vs. Satan and mankind having to choose. I like that both Basil and Lord Henry are pulling Dorian in two opposite directions, both good and evil, but I don't agree that Basil possess all the "godlike" characteristics or that Lord Henry is a completely evil person (though I particularly don't like him). Good question, but I agree that it wasn't Wilde's intention for the readers to view the book that way. I would venture to say that both Basil and Lord Henry want Dorian to themselves without the influence of the other person. I think both men are sexually attracted to Dorian and are going about having an impact on him in completely opposite ways (Basil in a passive way and Henry in an aggressive way). I think that's the end of it. It's just a conflict in a love triangle kind of way with some representation of good and evil but I don't think the God vs. Satan has a lot to do with the meaning of the book. I could be COMPLETELY wrong though.
I agree with Amy, that both Lord Henry and Basil pull Dorian in two different directions, a good and an evil. I think that Basil is God, in that he is the creator of beauty and art, beacuse he was the one that said he basically created Dorian and he did not want Lord Henry to meet him first. I think Lord Henry would be the devil because he changes the persepective of Dorian's look on life which is harming him but Lord Henry does not realize that. So i think it is a good comparison to God, the Devil and mankind with these three characters.
I think that this connection would be accurate. Basil seems to view the world in a holy light, examine the world, pass judgement on the world, yet leave the world to be and only intervene when necessary. He looks at the world as though he is staring through a looking glass, picking out the imperfections which he may ultimately fix. Lord Henry seeks out innocence and looks to empower and influence those innocent souls which he encounters. He is fascinated by Dorian Gray because of Gray's innocence. By contaminating his mind, Henry is able to see Gray make mistakes for which Henry makes no effort to prevent. Henry sits back and watches as Gray makes his mistakes because it intrigues him. This is an act of evil. Gray, is the "piece" being watched through the looking glass by Basil(or God) and being pushed by evil (Lord Henry). Because he has become the guiny pig between this fight of good and evil, he has encorporated the human race.
I agree with levi and amy. I agree that the comparison of Lord Henry to the devil, Basil to God, and Dorian to mankind is a little extreme. I like how amy said that Lord Henry and Basil are pulling Dorian in two different directions, good and evil. As we have talked about, It seems like Lord Henry is trying to "corrupt" Dorian, but not even knowing it. Basil is just "studying" him, finding new things bout Dorian that spark Basil's interest.I really like amy put it, they are both a little attracted to DOrian and it is one big love fest triangle!!!
i think that the connections found are really good. i would have never thought about it. I can see how everything plays out, like Levi said "the first meeting of Dorian and Lord Henry closely resembles what happened in the garden of Eden." I just think that it is a very unique descrpition and i want to see it thoughout the book, but i think that it has a valid point.
Dorian shows immediately that he cares about his image through others eyes. Although he is very intelligent he likes the way that he is seen in others. Basil almost speaks of him as a child being so carefree and uncorrupted by others, Which is the real beauty that Basil(God) sees in everybody. While Basil sees something that can be manipulated, painted in his own portrait, its almost as if he is stilling Basil's creation and putting it in his own image. So i guess that this would portray society's shift changes through the manipulation of sin and corruption of spirit.
I do agree with these positions. The reason Dorian is so innocent is because he represents mankind. He needs guidence from the devil or god. Lord Henry is the devil because his personality it so manipulitive. That is what the devil does, tempts and manipulates. And of course Basil is god because he is so kind and he sits back and watches, like god would. He wants to see Dorian make the right decision. He will give him the free will, like god would.
Responding to David L's question, I think Wilde just loves being rebellious. In his time, the majority embraced rigid Victorian values, and Wilde openly embraced the transient pleasures of Hedonism. Wilde attracted public attention through his flamboyant ego and cutting wit, and enjoyed the attention immensely. If someone associated Wilde with Lord Henry and the Devil, Wilde would not feel shameful. Rather, I believe he would relish the attention. Furthermore, Lord Henry represents an Aestheto-Hedonist's loftiest ideals, and at the same time embodies many Anti-Victorian values, creating conflicting opinions on whether Lord Henry is 'good' or 'bad'. And, as Wilde says in the Preface, "When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself." I would like to add, that while Basil may seem kind and god-like, he is BORING! Lord Henry, on the other hand, provides the majority of the novel's intelligence and insight. Lord Henry drives the plot with his actions, and provides most of the novel's intelligence and insight (mainly in the form of memorable epigrams). Hypothetically speaking, if I had a choice of who to spend an evening with, I'd choose to chill with Lord Henry, because "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints" (Billy Joel).
I can actually completely agree that Basil is God and Lord Henry is the devil. I believe that the devil is trying to corrupt people in order for him to get their souls after they die. God, like Basil, doesn't intervene because they both want people, or Dorian, to make the right decisions by themseleves without the help of someone else. So I would believe that Basil represents a God like figure, Lord Henry like Satan, and Dorian as humankind.
I'm not quite sure I agree with the concept that the characters fill those roles. First of all we have to remind ourselves that Wilde was not a religious man so I can't see him writing a story in which the main characters symbolically religious. I guess in a broad sense this could be true, but not when you really analyze it. And is Basil really the creator or beauty? Or does he just reflect that beauty and admire it in his life and work. That would fit under the title of aestheticism rather than God.I also will answer Dave's question. Wilde was not religious and was flamboyantly homosexual which was and still is a sin in the Church’s eyes. So why would he care if the character that represents him was the devil?
I agree to a certain extent that Basil is God, Lord Henry is the devil, and Dorian is the world. They fit these roles to an extent. Basil was the person who created the beauty of Dorian in the painting, which symbolizes the creation of the Earth. Lord Henry was trying to corrupt Dorian's beauty, which is similar to the sin put on mankind by the temptation of the devil. Dorian is also like the world in the way that he is being tempted, and is actually failing to go against evil. This is a interesting statement because if what the class said about Wilde living in all of these characters, it makes it hard to say that they are symbolizing eternal figures. So I agree with this statement to an extent.
i find that Basil to represetn God. he tries to find and bring out the goodnes and the purity of everyone, especially Dorian Gray. I believe that he focuses on Dorian Gray because he has alot to offer with his purity. Lord Henry represents evil, in particular the snake in the story of adam and eve. I tries to get Dorian Gray to go against God's, Basil's, will. He tries to corrupt him and Dorian is attracted to his temptation because he is an average human being who would give in to some temptations.
I think that at this point in the novel, we can hesitantly make this assumption. However, I still think it is very early in the novel to make such a hefty comparison between the character's and God, Satan, and mankind. However, as I stated before, up to this point, these comparisons make pretty good sense. Basil really has sat back and given Dorian the agency to make his own decisions to leave and be with Lord Henry, just as God gives us the free agency to make our own decisions, and at times, follow Satan. There really is a relationship now between Lord Henry and Satan as well. Lord Henry "dominates" Dorian just as Satan "dominates" mankind at times. Also, I agree with Levi. It is very intriguing to think of the symbolic significance of the Garden of Eden and the beginning of this novel. Basil laid down the ground rules for Dorian, warning him to stay away from Lord Henry, who would try and influence him to do the wrong thing all the time. This is similar to God telling Adam and Eve, not to partake of the fruit or they would be cut off from the immediate presence of God. In the end, Dorian made the decision just like Adam and Eve made, which was to follow the influencer. I think that these comparisons are very valid and important to understand, yet I do think there is a lot left in the novel and I am sure many upcoming turning points could perhaps change our perspective and idea on these relationships.
I definatley see the connections between Lord henry being the devil, Basil being god, and Dorian being man kind. I think that we will see more simpilarities in the rest of the book that also make this connection. We will have to see if in the end of the book, basil does something to kind of save dorian.
I see the connection that is being made but I don’t think that is how Wilde intended it. I think he was showing himself through the characters more than any eternal being because Wilde seems like he wants all the attention he can get. I believe he is showing the different sides of his own nature through the characters. He uses Basil as his good, pure, aesthetic side and reveals his own tempting, evil, hedonistic side through Lord Henry. Dorian presents the way he is morally, beautiful and pure but giving in to the temptations presented.
I never thought of that before, but now that i heard it put in that sense, i can see how it might seem that way. I can see how lord henry might seem as the devil because he is trying to corrupt dorian and how basil might seem like god because he is trying to preserve dorians innocence. i think that we will see alot more references like this throughout the book.
Basil is definately God because he only wants good for Dorian. Dorian is definately mankind because he represents innocence and the ability to change. Lord Henry represents the devil because in my opinion he only cares about molding Dorian in his own way and he doesn't really care if it is detrimental to him or not.
I think that comparing Lord Henry to teh devil is a legitimate connection, whehter intentional on wilde's part or not. Lord Henry intentionally (in my opinion) corrupts people for his own good. And I think he is intentionally corrupting Dorian to form him into the image he wants to see. The connection between god and Basil is a little harder for me to see. I agree with ashley that he wants good for Dorian, but he can't control it. He cant control what happens to Dorian, nor can he make good things happen to him.
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