The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray and The Narcissus

The myth of Narcissus is a good illustration of the damage that total self
– love can do to a person. There is a misconception about narcissistic people.
This confusion is the belief that narcissistic people are in love with
themselves, but according to the DSM – lll criteria published in 1989, the
narcissus is not in love with himself, but in fact in love with his reflection.
This does not mean that a narcissus has no love for others, but it is
miss-directed love. They get their love identity from the love of the image they
portray to others. In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde,
Dorian Gray is the protagonist who is narcissistic. Dorian Gary is in many ways
a modern retelling of the ancient myth about Narcissus. In five ways they are
very similar: beauty, love, vengeance, death and narcissism.

These stories both have the concept of beauty; Dorian Gary and Narcissus are
beautiful, young and handsome. In The Picture of Dorian Gray the artist Basil
Hallward believes that Dorian’s beauty is the inspiration for all of his art.
“Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school,” Hallward
declared, “a school that is to have in it all passion of the romantic spirit,
all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek.” Narcissus was Greek, so he
also in a way influenced Basil. Without a doubt, Dorian and Narcissus were both
distinguished for their beauty.

Dorian and Narcissus have a very similar love plot; both had one true love:
Dorian’s being Sibyl Vane, and Narcissus’s being Echo. Sibyl was an actress
that was in love with Dorian, but she was so caught up in her love that she lost
her ability to act. Dorian feeling outraged spurns her cruelly, leaving her
humiliated, heartbroken and left to kill herself that night. Echo was the nymph
that was in love with Narcissus, and was condemned by the goddess Hera to never
speak again, except to repeat whatever was said to her, because of this she was
unable to tell Narcissus that she loved him. Like Dorian, Narcissus cruelly
refused to accept Echo’s love because of his anger.

Vengeance is a very important device in both stories, because it is
eventually what leads to the death of both Narcissus and Dorian. Aphrodite was
so enraged at the death of Echo that he promised to seek revenge on Narcissus,
placing an evil curse upon him which eventually lead to his death. Dorian
attempts to seek revenge on Basil, when Basil points out how evil Dorian has
become. Dorian couldn’t take the thought that someone had thought of him as an
evil person so he killed Basil.

Both Narcissus and Dorian had an overwhelming amount of self-love, and in
other words, they both were narcissistic. Every women or girl fell in love with
Narcissus outer beauty almost immediately. Having this happen to Narcissus all
the time gave him a very high opinion of himself. Narcissus was convinced that
only a girl as fair as himself was worthy of his attention. Dorian wished upon
eternal youth while his picture aged. This prayer was answered. For every sin he
committed, stains were added to the painting while it grew old, but his own face
remained virtuous and appealing. Dorian sold his soul to the devil in order to
remain forever beautiful.

In the end both Dorian and Narcissus end up dying, due to their own mistakes.
A curse is placed upon Narcissus, allowing him to fall in love with something
that could not return his love, Narcissus, who did not know of the curse, ended
up falling in love with his own image, who in turn could not return his own
love. The curse was placed upon him in order to shoe him the love others had for
him, and the love he never returned to them. Dorian Gray sold himself to the
devil for a pretty face. However it was this face that corrupted his life and
the lives of those around him. Not only did he cause the deaths of others , but
also to himself. At the end of the novel Dorian realized, or thought he realized
that by destroying the portrait he would be free, free from the conscience that
the portrait had held hidden for so many years. The same knife that had killed
the creator of the portrait would kill the painters work.

Dorian Gray is in fact a more modern retelling of the ancient myth of
Narcissus. They share