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Yet an inherent contradiction to the preface lies in the fact that Dorian eventually sees the reality that lies beneath his beautiful features, suggesting that the aesthetic lifestyle, without a thought to morality is destructive. By observing the hideous transformation of his portrait, Dorian is "corrupt without being charming" (1) since he finds "ugly meanings in beautiful things" (1). Beneath his youthful countenance lies a sinful creature capable of blackmail and murder. But Dorian at first denies this fact, continuing his quest for pleasure and allowing his soul to disintegrate further. Though the portrait acts as a moral indicator for Dorian, he blatantly disregards it. Such hatred of reality can be akin to "the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the glass" (1). Caliban, the hideous servant from Shakespeare's The Tempest, destroys a mirror to hide from his appearance. So too, does Dorian lock his picture away and indulge in material possessions to "escape, for a season from the fear that seemed . . . almost to great to be borne" (143). Instead of curtailing his sins, Dorian prefers to live his life with the absence of morality. Yet the memory of the terrible portrait always returns to haunt him, and Dorian becomes paranoid that it will be discovered and his appearance will be tarnished to the world. Eventually, Dorian sees that "his beauty to him had been but a mask, his youth but a mockery," (223) and the full weight of his sins becomes apparent. Yet caught up in his vanity, Dorian refuses to confess any of his sins. Even after committing murder, Dorian resorts to curing his soul through an opium addiction, wishing to erase the act from his memory than admit his wrongdoing. But eventually, he realizes that the portrait "acts as conscience" (228) to him, inscribing every sin onto his once beautiful features. The façade of his physical beauty destroyed, Dorian believes the only way to continue his life is to destroy the hideous portrait. Ironically, by destroying his conscience, Dorian destroys himself as well. Without giving a thought to reality, Dorian Gray concludes his life as a man destroyed by sin, his beauty all but forgotten. Dorian Gray's demise causes the reader to wonder about Oscar Wilde's sincerity in the preface. Though Wilde advocates the Aesthetic belief that life should be more like art-refined and pleasing-he also suggests that people should take their actions seriously, with the moral consequences in mind. While Wilde did not share the same moral values as Victorian society, he iterates in The Picture of Dorian Gray that without a set of values one will be lost to a life of depravity, as Dorian is. The preface then takes on a dual role, encouraging the people to appreciate the world for its beauty, but also to warn them that life is not like art. "It is the spectator, not life, that art truly mirrors" (2), Wilde writes, implying that how one views the world will ultimately determine how they appreciate beauty. Analysis This example high school English paper nicely connects the character Dorian Gray to the statements in the preface about beauty. The paper's argument that Dorian is "useless" because he has no other talents besides his good looks is well-done. The conclusion also raises some interesting questions - was Wilde co
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