Morality In The Picture Of Dorian Gray And Frankenstein

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Humanity lives by two principles, good and evil. This conflict is portrayed largely through literature. The Picture of Dorian Gray and Frankenstein, for example, both depict for the reader, themes associated with morality. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the author, Oscar Wilde, presents morality as the physical traits of beauty and ugliness. The effects of morality are also depicted on his main character, Dorian Gray. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the reader is introduced to this conflict in a more conventional means, instead, describing good with an element of divinity. Shelley also uses her main character, Victor Frankenstein, to present a divine purpose of morality, as well as the effect that morality has on one’s character.
In both The
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The trouble with defining the nature of Dorian Gray, is that one is left wondering if he should be defined based on his morals, or on the morals held by most of society. If Gray is evaluated based on his morals, those of beauty and ugliness, he would be described as beautiful. This presents a serious flaw in Dorian’s own moral system, as he may be a “beautiful creature” (Wilde 7). In reality, though, he is evil. Even Dorian is aware of his own evil nature, saying “he… tarnished himself, filled his mind with corruption and given horror to his fancy” (Wilde 184). Victor is far less black and white. Frankenstein knew that he committed evil when he created the monster, describing himself as “the author of unalterable evils” (Shelley 91-92). Realizing the monster’s evil, he knows that he must pursue the creature, describing the journey as his “purpose” even “calling on Heaven to support” him (Shelley 205). Frankenstein’s attempt at repairing the evil which he created, provides a glimpse into his good nature. Additionally, this situation depicts a major distinction between Victor and Dorian. Dorian is aware that has committed evil, but never seeks to repair his evils, whereas Victor is aware of his sins and fights to correct …show more content…
The reader finds that the dispositions of each character, whether they are morally good or bad, relate to their opinion of the rewards of morality. Without seeing the effects of his evils, “the wicked” left “[un]punished, nor the good rewarded,” Dorian believes that he can do anything. (Wilde 168). Dorian is left with no motivation to be moral, believing that morality doesn’t lead to happiness (Wilde 67). This lack of motivation leaves Dorian completely without guilt, or an understanding of his wrongs. In fact, when Dorian first notices a change in the portrait, he says “he would resist temptation” (Wilde 79). However, even Gray’s best efforts have no effect, and he continues to commit evil, feeling no guilt, or any other effect from his sins. Victor Frankenstein, however, feels guilt, stating that “he was seized by remorse and guilt….a hell of intense tortures” (Shelley 90). This guilt is driven by his fear of “utter and terrible destruction” in the face of immorality (Shelley 42). This is the major difference between Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray. One is a story of redemption, a fall and then a restoration, and the other is a story of degradation. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian doesn’t see any effect of morality, and therefore, has no reason to be moral, whereas Victor sees the potential effects of morality, whether a reward or a punishment, leading

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