The Importance Of Lord Henry's Introduction In The Picture Of Dorian Gray

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What is the importance of Lord Henry’s introduction in the novel Dorian Gray?
Lord Henry Wotton is the first character introduced in Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. From the start of the novel it is evident that Lord Henry lives an extremely lavish lifestyle and has an eye for beautiful things and their aesthetic. His eye could “just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossom of a laburnum” as he is lying on a “divan of Persian saddle bags.” Wilde portrays Lord Henry’s scenery in a beautiful and idealistic way, revealing the true nature of the aristocratic lifestyle of the time – doing little and appreciating the art and beauty of things. The first words from Lord Henry’s mouth (criticising The Academy and
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Our first impression of Dorian is that he is modest and innocent, as he tells Basil, “… I don’t want a life-sized portrait of myself,” and is fidgeting in a “wilful, petulant manner.” As Lord Henry and Dorian first bond, Wilde continues to use nature based description for Dorian – with Lord Henry complimenting his “rose-red youth” and “rose-white boyhood” portraying Dorian in a fragile and innocent manner, like a flower. The imagery of innocence means Dorian is, and will be, easily corrupted. It seems as though people surrounding Lord Henry recognise his influence, as Basil says, “Don’t try to influence him. Your influence would be bad.” There is an ironic contrast in chapters two and three – with Lord Henry telling Dorian “All influence is immoral – from the scientific point of view.” Later in chapter 3, it is clear that Lord Henry is purposefully influencing Dorian, discussing life, art and beauty. Despite the previous friendship between Basil and Dorian, Dorian still decides to cancel his appointment with Basil in order to stay with Henry as his words are transfixing for Dorian – “I must come with you… No one talks as wonderfully as you do.” Dorian is being opened up to a whole new world through Henry’s words, as he gives him an alternate view on life, mostly sin and taboo subjects, which displays the views of hedonism …show more content…
He often belittles women, as he says there are “Women are a decorative sex.” This is objectifying attitude is often reflected through Dorian, as he later calls Sibyl Vane the loveliest “thing” he had ever seen. Lord Henry often represents the classic upper class man, with not only his prejudices against women but his ignorance towards the struggles of anyone within a lower class, such as the Vane family. Henry has a severe lack of empathy, although he “can sympathise with everything except suffering.” This shows that despite the upper class’ philanthropy, they showed no sympathy for the poor.
In conclusion, Henry’s purpose within the novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, is his position of influence, considerably so over Dorian, with his strong views and opinions on things such as aesthetic. With his strong influence, there are considerable relations to Freud and his “id/ego/super ego” idea, with Henry as “the ego” (external influence) and Basil as “the super ego” (control of impulses). This again, reflects the psychological effects on Dorian during the novel. However, this ultimately allows Dorian’s character to develop and change, allowing the novel to

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