I. Thesis Statement: Influence comes with an onerous price.
II. Damage is determined by the way in which one is affected by inevitable outside influences.
a. Dorian’s exposure to outside influences.
b. Dorian’s corruption and, through him, the corruption of others.
III. Falling under the influence of idolization comes at the cost of one’s powers of reasoning.
a. Reasoning behind Basil’s idolization.
b. Faults in idolization and their consequences.
IV. Art can exert a detrimental influence.
a. Dorian’s realization of his own beauty because of the portrait.
b. The portrait’s scars looming over Dorian.
Dorian Gray accepts Henry’s witty teachings about the lifestyle where aestheticism rises above all in importance, and when Dorian Gray puts these words into actions, he realizes the appearance of gruesome transformations in his portrait. By conditioning his mind with Henry’s chatter, Dorian Gray leaves the pure psyche that inspired Basil’s paintings. At this point, “Totally under Lord Henry’s spell, this refined young man with high ideals adopts his mentor’s words to the best of his ability” (Aubrey 2).
Henry’s philosophical ideas also result in Basil’s downfall as an artist because he loses his inspirational muse. Dorian converts into a creature that only seeks true beauty in the form of art, which he finds in the poor actress Sibyl Vane. At her performances, Dorian is astonished by Sibyl’s wonderful voice. In their case, Dorian serves as the influence to which Sibyl wholeheartedly devotes her entire being. When she drops her artistic talent, Dorian discards her immediately because she no longer radiates the creative beauty he loves. Since she grasped him so tightly, losing him was more than she could bear. The damage is done when the poison from the drink strikes her heart and stops her breath. Consequently, Dorian realizes that he indirectly murdered Sibyl Vane and this consciousness causes a weakness of his consciousness. This internal conflict allows him to become liable to negative outside influences that will only continue throughout the novel. What once seemed like a saving grace for Dorian has turned against him because he chooses selfishness over good influences.
Falling under the influence of idolization comes at the cost of one’s powers of reasoning. Basil Hallward exemplifies this kind of influence. Considering Basil’s artistic nature, it is not hard to see why Basil came to worship Dorian, because beauty is an important factor of artwork. Basil cannot clearly differentiate between real life and art and it obscures his judgment about the world. In art, beauty parallels virtuous acts, but beauty does not equal noble actions in the real world. Since Dorian is beautiful, Basil concludes that there will remain a grain of good in Dorian. He refuses to see the wickedness flourishing inside Dorian and stubbornly holds onto his perfect ideal of Dorian, which ultimately leads to Basil’s demise. Basil only fueled the fire of egotism burning in Dorian’s heart through compliments and “must bear his share of responsibility for encouraging Dorian on the path that proves so destructive for him as well as others” (Aubrey 3). Basil admits that idolizing Dorian leads to the latter’s present dastardly character: “I worshipped you too much. I am punished for it” (162). Since Basil lost his ability to decipher right from wrong because of idolization, he lost the power to save Dorian. Basil has good intentions and has faith in redemption, and if his eyes weren’t clouded by adoration, he might have been able to...