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Irony in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Uploaded by shimzim on Mar 30, 2009

Joseph Heller writes, “He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt” (Heller 38). In The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, Dorian attempts to keep himself eternally youthful and beautiful, but he fails in the end. Even though many people believe that there is a price for immortality, the death of an immortal is not ironic. However, The Picture of Dorian Gray is ironic due to Dorian’s actions, as he tries to keep himself eternally youthful and, in the process, destroys himself. Irony is defined as “a difference between appearance and reality” (Farrell 1313). More specifically Wilde uses irony of situation which is when “an event occurs that violates the expectations of the characters, the reader, or the audience” (1313).

As the book begins, the reader finds that Dorian, treasures beauty more than anything. The quote, "Real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face" (Wilde 3). The irony in this concept is that it is the beginning of the destruction of Dorian’s beauty and soul. Basil is a painter and he paints a portrait of Dorian. Dorian refuses to show it because he thinks that it has “shown in it the secret of my [Dorian’s] own soul” (6). He unknowingly gives his soul to the portrait while he complains, saying:
[quote:61c91b9036]How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June. . . . If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that–for that–I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that![/quote:61c91b9036] (29)
Little does Dorian know that giving up his soul for beauty and youth will end up being his nemesis.

“Irony is created in the incongruity of such gorgeous details and such terrible actions” (Dianec). With the obsession of beauty comes the obsession of popularity. Dorian continues down this path and begins to sin. He looks at his painting and sees that it becomes ugly from age and sins. His obsession overwhelms him because he maintains his beauty but cannot comprehend why the portrait deteriorates. Since...

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Uploaded by:   shimzim

Date:   03/30/2009

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (638 words)

Views:   9454

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