Basil\'s Changes As Related To Wilde\'s Opinion On Art

Oscar Wilde, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, makes Basil\'s life
change
drastically by having him paint a portrait of Dorian Gray and express
too much of himself
in it, which, in Wilde\'s mind, is a troublesome obstacle to circumvent.
Wilde believes
that the artist should not portray any of himself in his work, so when
Basil does this, it is
he who creates his own downfall, not Dorian.
Wilde introduces Basil to Dorian when Basil begins to notice Dorian
staring at
him at a party. Basil "suddenly became conscious that someone was
looking at [him].
[He] turned halfway around and saw Dorian Gray for the first time"
(Wilde 24). Basil
immediately notices him, however Basil is afraid to talk to him. His
reason for this is
that he does "not want any external influence in [his] life" (Wilde
24). This is almost a
paradox in that it is eventually his own internal influence that
destroys him. Wilde does
this many times throughout the book. He loved using paradoxes and that
is why Lord
Henry, the character most similar to Wilde, is quoted as being called
"Price Paradox."
Although Dorian and Basil end up hating each other, they do enjoy
meeting each other
for the first time. Basil finds something different about Dorian. He
sees him in a
different way than he sees other men. Dorian is not only beautiful to
Basil, but he is also
gentle and kind. This is when Basil falls in love with him and begins
to paint the picture.
Basil begins painting the picture, but does not tell anyone about it,
including
Dorian, because he knows that there is too much of himself in it. Lord
Henry discovers
the painting and asks Basil why he will not display it. Lord Henry
thinks that it is so
beautiful it should be displayed in a museum. Basil argues that the
reason he will not
display the painting is because he is "afraid that [he] has shown in it
the secret of his soul" (Wilde 23). This is another paradox because he
has not only shown the secret of
his soul, but the painting eventually comes to show the secret of
Dorian\'s soul also. In
the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde explains that "to
reveal art and conceal
the artist is art\'s aim" (Wilde 17). Basil realizes that he has not
concealed himself in the
painting and therefore feels the painting is not worth anything. After
Lord Henry sees the
painting, he asks to meet Dorian. Basil says that would not be good
because his
"influence would be bad" (Wilde 31). Basil is correct in saying this
because Lord Henry
is the main person who helps Dorian to destroy himself. Lord Henry
disregards Basil\'s
request and meets Dorian anyway. This is the beginning of the end for
both Dorian and
Basil because Lord Henry\'s influence pollutes Dorian. Lord Henry taunts
Dorian and
continues to remind him of all the sin that is building up and that even
though his body is
not aging, his soul is deteriorating fast.
When Basil notices that Dorian has not changed physically in many
years, he is
curious to know how Dorian stayed beautiful, but also wants to know why
Dorian has
changed so much emotionally. Basil does not have the painting on
display, but rather
keeps it in the attic. When Dorian comes over one day, he and Basil are
talking when
Basil asks, "I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I
should have to see
your soul." (Wilde 216) Dorian goes into a rage and takes Basil
upstairs to see his soul
which is concealed in the painting. When Basil sees the painting which
is bloody and
atrocious looking, he cannot believe that he painted it. Dorian
reassures him that it is
indeed Basil\'s painting. In that painting is all of Dorian\'s hate,
fear, and sadness reduced
onto a canvass. When Dorian sees the picture, he blames Basil for it
and picks up a knife
laying on a nearby table and stabs Basil. He then takes the knife and
stabs the painting in
the heart, killing his soul, and returning the painting to its original
form. Wilde
constructs this in an interesting way because after Dorian stabs the
picture, which is a
representation of his soul, Wilde shows Dorian laying on the ground,
wrinkled and
disgusting, with a knife in his heart. Wilde did this to show that when
Dorian stabbed the painting, he was actually stabbing himself.
Oscar Wilde first portrays Dorian Gray as a sweet, sensitive man whom
everyone
admires. When Basil, however, began admiring Dorian, he changed. Lord
Henry moved
into his life, and the painting showed a form of beauty that