The Line Between Dorian Gray and Our Humanity


Pursuing your own pleasures above all else whether it be constantly or occasionally, losing yourself in love for another, devoting yourself to experiencing it all before it’s over… Wanting what you can’t have.

Impressionable. Young.

Longing for the past. Old.


Humans are known for breaking their hearts with their humanity, damaging themselves beyond compare due to the feelings they cannot control. In reality we are our own worst enemy, alongside components of what is the human condition: growth, morality and conflict.

Many readers of The Picture of Dorian Gray feel either contempt or pity for its protagonist; however, only few will identify themselves to connect with Dorian on a personal level.

As humans, most of us want to show the world our best side. Identifying with a character whose corrupt side has been bared to all means admitting there is a darker part of yourself – one in which even you may not want to acknowledge.

This, is the line between Dorian Gray and our humanity.

Did you identify with any of the words written in the beginning? Have you pursued your pleasures, wanted what you couldn’t have or loved too hard it broke you?

If you think about it, don’t those all apply to Dorian as well?

It’s easier to admit you connect with something when it isn’t tied down to a character who the world despises. It’s easier to see the humanity in someone when you know that their feelings can be reflected upon the world.

It’s easier to connect with the man when you realize he isn’t so different from us after all.

Dorian takes his humanity to the extremes, using his ideals and emotions to come to conclusions many cannot fathom making themselves. While many will not follow in his footsteps, people will always experience what influences Dorian to take such drastic measures.

At the beginning of the novel, it takes Dorian meeting Lord Henry to have the fire within him ignited. This, of course, is in result of Lord Henry’s strong presence and transformative ideas paired with Dorian’s susceptible personality.  Being young and naive, while arguably in the presence of a man compelling or attractive to Dorian, opens up a world of influence.

Everyone in this world is born innocent. It takes the family you are familiar with, the people you meet and the experiences you have that shape who you become as a person. When we are young our worldview is easily shaped much like Dorian, who beneath it all, is human. Just like you and me.

We are no different from Dorian Gray.

As humans look upon the lives of others, they’ll often look at what others have with envy. While one may be content with what they have, they will always want more; because why stop at what you have when you can get so much more?

The character of Dorian is enraptured by the idea of eternal beauty – it’s what drives him forth to “sell his soul” and in turn, blinds him from remembering his previous morals. Once he realizes the painting grows more grotesque with every sin, he also realizes his wish has come true. What previously appeared to be the impossible is now within Dorian’s grasp.

Why stop at what he has when he can get so much more?

Well, it’s because he is human just like you and me.

We are no different from Dorian Gray.

Time passes and with every day, our time on this earth lessens. Humans grow older as they look back to their youth and long for the past while people look back and regret their decisions.

We hide these past decisions within ourselves, not wanting to face the truth of what we have done, letting it mar our soul within. We make ourselves better by fixing these mistakes and masking the regret in hopes of subduing it to a distant memory.

While the novel is coming to its end, Dorian attempts to reform himself after the murder of Basil Hallward. Whether it be with selfish or pure intentions, he is still feeling regret.

However, he draws the line at confessing publicly of all that he has done. After all, he is now nothing without his face. It took him many years to build up his reputation using his appearance and he isn’t ready to let that go. Dorian stabs the painting in a fit of rage, striving to hide his revolting soul and rid him of all sin.

He couldn’t handle the truth of his reality or of who he became to be. He attempted to make himself better and mend the mistakes of his past, while soothing his regret by replacing it with good deeds.

This is, of course, because he is human – he is you and me.

We are no different from Dorian Gray.

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8 thoughts on “The Line Between Dorian Gray and Our Humanity

  1. Dear Elissa,

    I would like to compliment the fluid and free-flowing manner you utilized to intertwine the information presented in your piece- even though the piece as a whole was sectioned off into parts. It was clever how you progressed through the beginning, middle, and end of the novel alongside the addition of observations of human nature associated with them. You always connected back to the idea of how “we are no different from Dorian Gray”, and further expressed the numerous relations we share that make us so alike, despite the many people out there that deny their association with a “horrendous” character like him. There were many thought provoking questions as well as sentences that sparked realizations and “ah ha” moments within me, my favourite line being, “While one may be content with what they have, they will always want more; because why stop at what you have when you can get so much more?”, and the single repetition of it, “Why stop at what he has when he can get so much more?”, which at first seems so unpleasant and greedy to hear, however, it is the truth; we are insatiable- always craving but never satisfied. Lastly, this piece was very enjoyable and clear to read- I was definitely entranced by it. Thank you for sharing it!

    Content wise I honestly couldn’t think of anything to improve on, but I suggest reading this piece out loud a couple of times to add in or revise punctuation so that it can flow even better!


    1. Dearest Faith,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog and am incredibly happy to hear your thoughts on this piece! I’m also glad I was able to provoke such thoughts provided within you as it gives me a view of my writing from another’s eyes.

      Certainly! Thank you for reminding me of punctuation! I read my work out once to check if it flowed well… But I tend to use a lot of punctuation and, although it may sound good to me, some can be really unnecessary. I’m happy you pointed that out! It is most definitely something I need to be more careful of.

      Faith! I love you! Your comment has made my day. Once again, I would like to thank you for taking your time and reading my work!


  2. Elissa,
    I have a very distinct memory of you saying you were going to write a fanfiction on Dorian Gray, for this assignment, however, I see that you must have scrapped that idea ;). That aside, this blog post was very interesting for me to read. You’ve woven together aphorisms and analysis into one of the most unique blog posts I’ve read. Admittedly, I haven’t read everyone’s blog posts in this class, but I have never come across something like this.
    As someone who didn’t feel very much sympathy for Dorian, it was interesting to see your perspective him, and why you thought he was a character that so many people felt a connection to. Your analysis of Dorian’s character was quite short, but the ideas that you presented showed that you had a solid understanding of who he was and what he signified. Your word choice was very profound and effective, unlike a lot of people who simply throw big words into their writing for the sake of making a shallow piece of writing sound smarter, it’s obvious that you were instead using eloquent words for the sake of enhancing your ideas.
    One thing I would say you could improve on was synthesizing your thoughts. While you had many great ideas scattered throughout this piece, I would suggest that you try to perhaps connect them to one another, as the flow of this piece felt somewhat disjointed at times. Other than that, I found this to be a very unique and intriguing read.
    Always keep writing!
    – Genevieve

    1. Dearest Genevieve,

      Ah, yes… The infamous fanfiction. Don’t you nor Carmen worry, for I will not break my promise! You will get what we have discussed, mwahahaha!

      On another note, wow! I am so honoured to hear these glows from you. It really helps me realize the positives of my work, rather than focusing on what may be tweaking. It certainly has a better reaction from readers than I expected, so reading your comment helped me in many ways.

      I myself did not feel much sympathy for Dorian Gray. In fact, I believe I had little opinion at all in the beginning. Instead I would judge his decisions and think of him as a naive, narcissistic young boy. However, as we began discussing this book in class I realized I had to open my eyes a little. I found similarities in him with many I know and even myself once I dug into exactly why he made the decisions he does. Even your recent blog, Genevieve, has opened my eyes to see behind Dorian’s facade and become familiar with his soul.

      Thank you for your constructive criticism! Yes, I will certainly work on that for next time. Perhaps I will try to plan my blog out before I start writing in order to conquer this problem (which, admittedly, has never occurred to me until now).

      My family group friend!! I would like to sincerely thank you for reading my blog and leaving such an inspiring comment on it. I am truly, truly grateful.


  3. Elissa,

    I also have a very distinct and fond memory of the Dorian fanfiction promise, but I see this is not it. Sigh… Just kidding!
    I loved this inciteful and captivating piece! First of all, the way in which you intertwined ideas about the human condition and the Picture of Dorian Gray made this post very interesting to read. Certain lines, such as “We hide these past decisions within ourselves, not wanting to face the truth of what we have done, letting it mar our soul within. ” obviously directily tie into TPoDG, but they also can be lines of truth that applies to much of humanity itself.

    As a side note, I really liked your visuals! Very captivating. How you lead the readers into your blog by having philosophical musings followed by rhetorical questions truly caught my eye. One thing for feedback would be to add more details that relate to the novel – there were some extremely well written theme statements that I wish you had tied to Dorian’s growth!

    I look forward to reading more of your amazing writing!



    1. Carmen,

      YES! FINALLY! The human condition! I always felt I didn’t have a strong grip on that concept, or failed to connect it to most of my work. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, I am glad to see that I was able to do such in my blog.

      Wow, the way you put “having philosophical musings followed by rhetorical questions” sounds so poetic. I’m glad to see the way I formatted parts of this post was able to catch your eye, it reminds me about how important formatting can be!

      I will make sure to add more details of certain novels and tie them together in future blog posts. Everything I wrote is supposed to be tied to Dorian, no matter if I state it or not, but I see I have to make connections clear in the future. Thank you for the glows, it will certainly help me improve my writing!!


      P.S – …Just you wait 😉

  4. *Dear Elissa,

    Media is boring, but this blog sure wasn’t! I love this piece because of your rhetoric and the way you’re able to bring humanity and light into a character as inhumane as Dorian. When I first picked up the book, I thought Dorian to be a fool, and that he was simply evil for all the vile actions that he has done. That is why during our Socratic at the river, I was thoroughly convinced that he was a disciple of the devil. However, as I read this, the first few lines drew me into an idea I had first deemed preposterous. I found myself connecting with Dorian, as he and I are not too different in our desires. Dorian was simply a victim of ignorance. I do want more, and when I thought about the philosophy from my own prospective, I did not think it a sin. However, when I saw Dorian want nothing but more power, I despised him. Hypocrisy. This is why the piece resonated with me, and I believe with the utmost certainty, with many individuals. Simply because we are all human.
    As for grows, I struggle to find any! However, I do agree with Faith that just some proofreading out loud would benefit the fluidity and structure of your piece.
    Keep writing, Elissa! You are very talented, and it was an honour to reach such a wonderful blog.
    ~Tim ♥

    1. Timothy!! (This is officially your name to me)

      Thank you for choosing to comment on my blog! I’m glad to see that the ideas I wrote in my blog helped you notice the connection between humans and Dorian Gray. Many of us despise his character in the beginning *until* we analyze who Dorian is, much like myself. It’s hard to resonate with him, so I’m also glad I was able to explain the sides of us that are much like him.

      I will make sure to proofread my writing more than once and more thoroughly next time.

      Once again, thank you Tim! Thank you so much.


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