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Notes on The Picture of Dorian Gray Themes

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Topic Tracking: Influence

Chapter 1

Influence 1: Basil knew instinctively, at first glance, that Dorian would have a profound influence on his life; he could not have possibly known the extent of this influence. Not only does Dorian's soul affect all of the works of art he paints after meeting him, he also will eventually "absorb" all of Basil himself-quite literally, in fact, as he has Basil's body burnt completely after killing him to leave no trace behind.

Influence 2: Basil knows Lord Henry well enough to know that he tells people things that can give them bad ideas; he warns Lord Henry not to influence Dorian because he knows that were Lord Henry to try, Dorian would be ruined. Basil, it seems, has the most foresight of the characters in this book; without knowing it, he has predicted what is to happen to both himself and to Dorian.

Chapter 2

Influence 3: Dorian compares his friendship with Basil with his new friendship with Lord Henry. Basil has never influenced him in a noticeable way; he is the same person with or without Basil's friendship. Lord Henry, on the other hand, has already begun to give him new ideas and feelings; he knows that Lord Henry's influence on him will be profound. He also acknowledges, however, that Lord Henry is merely stirring thoughts that were already somewhere inside him.

Chapter 3

Influence 4: Despite Basil's plea not to change Dorian, Lord Henry makes it his new goal to have a great influence over Dorian's life. He sees him as a psychological case, as a puppet whom he can control.

Chapter 4

Influence 5: Dorian feels indebted to Lord Henry; he caused him to go in search of pleasure and new sensations, which brought him to Sibyl, so Dorian feels like he owes Lord Henry at least the assurance that he will always tell him everything. The two have a master-puppet relationship; Dorian would not have had the desire to search out pleasure if it were not for Lord Henry; and with Lord Henry controlling the strings, Dorian feels like there is nothing he can hide from him.

Chapter 9

Influence 6: Just as he knew at the very beginning, Basil knows that whatever evil is at work inside Dorian is due in no small part to Lord Henry's influence. Basil is correct to be confused by Dorian's looks; they betray no hint of evil, and yet he seems to be completely over the fact that his fiancée took her own life the night before. These two things do not go together, and Basil recognizes that Dorian is looking at the tragedy with the same emotional passivity with which Lord Henry carries out his own life. Basil refuses to believe that these ideas were in Dorian before Lord Henry came along, because that would spoil his vision of Dorian as the beautiful innocent.

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