Portrait – Passion or Obsession
“An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them.”
– Oscar Wilde
In the picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, was it the passion of the artist or the obsession of the subject? Or was it both, the obsession and the passion? The thought that we can separate the soul from our body, is a real fascinating thought. We all wish that we remain young forever. Who doesn’t? Youth is bundle of ecstasy…full of jest and joy. Youth with epitome of beauty is sheer bliss. Few are blessed with that phase of life where you have beauty and wealth when you are at your youthful best. Sometime being engulfed in that defining glory, you simply don’t realize that precious fleeting treasure of passion. So blissful is that period that you gloat in glorification and time just fly before you could get full gratification. Only those who have missed it or don’t possess it perhaps feel the real absence of its presence…Lord Henry was emission of intellectual inspiration.
“But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.” – Oscar Wilde
Artists are mostly obsessed with their passion. The passion is so profound and powerful that their creative work exemplifies with fineness. Basil Hallward was a painter with par excellence. The subject of a painter could be an animate or inanimate object…a matter of choice. Does the choice of object makes any difference to the painter, yes it does if it is an animate handsome person. No other character better than Basil Hallward, who can testify to this assertion. He was enthralled with the perfection of beauty that was personified in the character of Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray was a character chiseled with precision. Basil Hallward couldn’t have expected a better subject to paint. He was so obsessed with his subject that his eye on the character and the hand on the canvas coordination were experiencing a mysterious convergence.
“The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.”– Oscar Wilde
Basil Hallward’s obsession on Dorian Gray had grown, and grown beyond the boundary to become his obsessive possession. Yes, anything can be fine till it is just a possession but obsessive possession could be profoundly perilous. You would not like to simply part or share a part in any form or mode. As a painter he had ventured into that precinct of obsessive possession. He didn’t want Lord Henry to be any distraction with his intellectual influence on Dorian Gray. Dorian Gray was in his youthful tenderness. He was largely susceptible. He was also little circumspect. He was prone to the profligacy pleasures…a sin of mind. We derive sleazy satisfaction in corruption of conscience. Yielding to irresistible temptation, temperament is tested. Basil Hallward didn’t want his temperament to be tested with the interaction of Lord Henry with Dorian Gray. Basil Hallward was well versed with Lord Henry’s influencing impact of his paranoid preaching.
How can the intricate philosophy of our life revolve around a simple portrait? Yes, it is feasible only when the portrait embraces the soul of the character. Basil Hallward’s portrait of Dorian Gray embraced his soul, a portrait that presented a perspective to the world that has changed the perception of painting and storytelling. A wish out of passion did shift the aging process from the person to the portrait. It sounds simple but the consequences turned out to be complex, and complicated the conscience of the protagonist Dorian Gray. His philosophy of life had yet to germinate, gently got germane with the deceptive values and extravagance beliefs of Lord Henry.
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.”– Oscar Wilde
When you lose control on self, self esteem shrinks. Pride becomes your prejudice. Sense is not sure and sensibility becomes surrogate to your criminal conscience. You commit crime after crime in mind, and with man and woman you are in obsession. Passion transfers to obsession. Sibyl Vane committed suicide because obsession overpowered her possession with Dorian Gray’s influence. Self portrait was a gruesome witness to the tragic end of its creator, helpless and full of hate towards the unfolding of the obsessive enactment. Dorian Gray murdered Basil Hallward because his obsession had turned fatal that fateful evening. Lord Henry persisted on his philosophical preaching of life and the living.
Dorian Gray could not further stretch his indulgence and consigned his conscience to truth, had to kill the portrait to protect his perpetration of immoral gratification.