Monday, June 20, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray

this passage from oscar wilde's the picture of dorian gray has helped and inspired me through my writing process for a number of stories including the one i'm working on now. for all those interested it is in chapter 2 when henry is addressing dorian in basil's studio as basil is painting the portrait of dorian. in my opinion it is the most vital passage in the whole book.

"The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion,–these are the two things that govern us... And yet," continued Lord Henry, in his low, musical voice, and with that graceful wave of the hand that was always so characteristic of him, and that he had even in his Eton days, “I believe that if one man were to live his life out fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream,–I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal,– to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man among us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also. You, Mr. Gray, you yourself, with your rose-red youth and your rose-white boyhood, you have had passions that have made you afraid, thoughts that have filled you with terror, day-dreams and sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with shame–"
"Stop!" murmured Dorian Gray, "stop! you bewilder me. I don’t know what to say. There is some answer to you, but I cannot find it. Don’t speak. Let me think, or, rather, let me try not to think."

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