The Theme Of Hidden Truths In Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray follows the life of a young man, Dorian Gray, in the Victorian Society. The main character is Dorian Gray, a young man who attempts to be young forever. At the beginning of the book, Dorian has many interactions with Lord Henry, a sarcastic, influential, and intelligent man. Lord Henry uses many epigrams, witty sayings that reveal deep truths about Victorian society. Wilde uses blunt epigrams to reveal the hidden truths of high society during the Victorian era a time and place where people are often, insincere, selfish and vain.
One of the biggest problems that Wilde had with Victorian Society was the fact that everyone was so insincere. For example, women were not equal to men during the Victorian era,
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People want to appear caring and selfless to others, but their actions betray their real motives. Lord Henry is victim to this vanity and selfishness, but he is at least up-front about it. While talking about Americans, Lord Henry states: "I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones," (Wilde, page 26). People want to appear as kind and caring in real life. They want to appear as though the actions of others affect them. Their old friends have no effect on them whatsoever, but they want others to believe that they are so caring that they do care about their old friends. This quote also shows how victorian society regarded privacy. People had no respect for it. They wanted to know as much as possible about their future friends, even if that information is obtained in immoral ways. By being selfish, to try to learn as much as possible, and trying to benefit themselves in every way possible, people would violate privacy and often hurt others. This utter disregard for others is brought up when Lord Henry is speak with Dorian and Basil. Henry states that: “When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy,” (Wilde, page 57). Lord Henry means to say that a person’s happiness is most important. While it is possible for a person to be happy by just doing good things, people might need to do bad things to feel happy. Lord Henry continues and says that a person’s life is the most important thing. This individualistic, selfish view of how life should be lived varies vastly from how we live in society today. In today’s society, most people believe that a person should try to better society. Wilde likely believed this, and he criticized Victorian society for being such an individualistic place. In Victorian Society, there were also problems with commitment. People liked to pretend that they were 100% faithful all the time. However

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