Notes on The Picture of Dorian Gray Themes

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Topic Tracking: Hedonism

Chapter 2

Hedonism 1: Lord Henry stirs the first seeds of Dorian's awakening by telling him about the philosophy of Hedonism; he opens Dorian's eyes to a world where the only good thing to do is seek out pleasure, not morality, and do whatever feels good. He tells Dorian that this is what the world needs. He believes that if everyone were to follow pleasure instead of what society tells him is moral, then the world would be happier, richer, and more ideal.

Hedonism 2: Speaking about Dorian's beauty and youth, Lord Henry cautions him not to take it for granted and to use it to live life to the fullest, because one day it will be gone and he will not be able to have the same pleasures that he can have today.

Chapter 6

Hedonism 3: Lord Henry is following his own Hedonistic beliefs when he tells Basil that he hopes Dorian will marry Sibyl and six months later find someone else. He finds studying Dorian immensely pleasurable,and though it is not the moral thing to do to lead a young person down a path of passion and destruction, it amuses him, and therefore, by his philosophy, it is good. He assures Basil that Dorian's life will not be spoiled by following Lord Henry's advice; the only way his life could be spoiled would be to listen to Basil's advice and remain sheltered all his life.

Chapter 8

Hedonism 4: Upon the realization that he cannot do what is socially thought of as good, Dorian becomes fascinated with all that he could do that could be pleasurable. Now that he does not have to worry about growing old, he can have the pleasures of the flesh for as long as he wants; and it will be an added Hedonistic pleasure to watch his soul grow ugly because of all that he can do, knowing that the world will never see him as ugly.

Chapter 11

Hedonism 5: Dorian begins to take on Lord Henry's mannerisms and believe in his philosophies on life, speaking on the importance of a new Hedonism in society. Puritanism has taken over, and the world needs people who go in search of pleasure. He is spurred on by this idea to search out the finest of the pleasures, material objects, and experiences he can find.

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