The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada Essay

Speaking about superficiality and corruption of a personality, it is evident that these are the negative phenomena that spoil an individual, damage his/her positive characteristics, and destroy his/her moral image. Everything, even the nature of a personality, is built on opposition. It means that a personality tears between good and evil, conscience and temptation, love and egoism, positive and negative moral influences. The struggle of these oppositions is depicted in the novel of Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray and in the American movie The Devil Wears Prada. The main characters of the novel and the movie did not struggle for staying moral people and followed not positive examples.

The Negative Consequences of Superficiality and Corruption in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry gives Dorian Gray a French book about hedonistic lifestyles and Dorian begins to engage in this hedonism. They are focused on pleasure, enjoyment, beauty, and sexual desires. In The Devil wears Prada, Andrea, a quiet girl, is turning into a different person by being influenced by the fashion society both physically and mentally. Dorian is a superficial person, as well as Andrea becomes superficial in the fashion society. In both works, corruption would eventually emerge towards the end. Dorian appears as the innocent youth at the beginning of the novel. Under Lord Henry’s influence, he becomes corrupt and eventually begins corrupting other young people himself.

Superficiality in The Picture of Dorian Gray is connected with the notions of selfishness, supernatural beauty, narcissism, false love, cynics, etc. Corruption is associated with “the corrupted beauty” when a person has a beautiful appearance, but an ugly soul. However, this person is not aware of this or does not want to do this.

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Superficiality in The Devil Wears Prada is connected with correspondence of an inner world to clothes and laws of fashion. Superficiality and corruption are displayed in this film when the main character is transformed from a shy and intelligent girl into a fashionable and stylish one. However, this is not her intention. She is influenced by her boss Miranda.
The scientific novelty of the paper attempts to analyze The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada and to identify similarities and differences between the main characters.

This paper intends to underline the peculiarities of superficiality, corruption, and negative influence with the help of two characters: Andrea and Dorian Gray.

The theoretical value of this study is the attempt to investigate similarities and differences of the novel and the movie. The obtained data is hoped to make a contribution to the literature. The aim is to show the immorality of actions of the two characters and conditions that influenced their development.

The practical advantage of the paper is the fact that one can apply the data to studying literature. Besides, one can use this paper for studying moral principles of behavior.

The main questions addressed in this research paper are the following:

– to reveal main themes, images, and similarities in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada;
– to show the impact of “negative consequences”, “superficiality”, and “corruption”; and
– to reveal changes in the characters’ behaviour.

Main Themes, Images, and Similarities in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada

Speaking about The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada, one can say that these are absolutely different works with different characters and themes. However, if one analyzes both works carefully, one can find many similarities, especially in terms of central themes and images.

First of all, one should pay the attention to themes. The Picture of Dorian Gray arouses the theme of corruption of a personality. A young and extremely handsome man Dorian Gray makes everybody fall in love with him. However, Dorian Gray is influenced negatively and corrupted by Lord Henry. This is Lord Henry who incites Dorian Gray to admire his appearance. Dorian Gray is even ready to give up his soul for being eternally young. He sells his soul and does not even think that it was the most valuable treasure he had.
With the help of The Picture of Dorian Gray, the author proved that the amoral art did not exist, “the moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium” (Wilde 5). Another theme revealed in this novel is the theme of morality. The image of Dorian Gray helps to understand that any immoral actions can have the negative consequences. Beauty cannot make the soul beautiful as only moral actions can do this.

Philosophy of morality is very intricate and one can notice that in The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada. The two main characters, Andrea and Dorian Gray, have their own philosophy of morality. While Andrea hesitates in her actions and doubts the morality of her choices, Dorian Gray does not admit his immoral conduct.

This is Lord Henry who turns Dorian Gray to immorality. He is convinced that one should live for pleasure, realizing one’s wishes and desires even if it contradicts moral principles
and rules. This is a life credo of Lord Henry and he imposes it on Dorian Gray. He says:

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The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. (…) The body sins once, and is done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains but the recollection of a pleasure, or luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist 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. (Wilde 25)
Comparing with all the characters in this novel, Dorian Gray is the most selfish and cynical one, especially when it concerns love. For example, Basil’s position is: “Do not talk like that about anyone you love, Dorian. Love is a more wonderful thing than Art” (Wilde 73). As a result, Dorian Gray does not know love and sincere feelings. The main problem of this novel is the corruption of the soul. Oscar Wilde described in details the process of destruction of the personality because of selfishness and narcissism.

The main image of this novel is Dorian Gray and one can observe his evolution under the influence of people who surround him, his attitude to himself, his understanding of beauty and superiority. One can name Dorian Gray a weak person as he is a conformist; he is restricted to his own world and is limited in terms of development.

Implicit homoerotic themes are hidden in The Portrait of Dorian Gray. The relationships between Harry, Dorian, and Basil display queer connection, autoerotism, and homosexuality. The portrait symbolizes a queer man with double life, split of self-representation as the element of survival, split between essence and appearance, struggle with identity, and contradiction between the inner world and the exterior one. The portrait is a form of self-love, erotic penetration, homosexual love, and autoerotism (Hansen 2011).

As to the movie The Devil Wears Prada, the main theme is the desire of the main character to get into the snooty fashionable environment. Andrea withstands everything like mockery, sneers, humiliation in order to prove that she is ready to do anything to get this job. At first, Andrea is indifferent to the attitude of her colleagues and her boss Miranda. However, soon she begins changing and listening to advice of surrounding people. Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl and the same happens with Andrea.

Comparing with Dorian Gray who provokes very contradictory feelings, Andrea evokes sympathy, desire to help and support. In spite of her beauty, she is persuaded that she is far from perfection and that she can never reach such a level as Miranda. If in Dorian Gray one could see too much self-confidence and selfishness, here one could see too much underestimation and lack of self-confidence. In both cases, there is no golden middle ground. Too much self-confidence is as bad as lack of self-confidence.

Dorian Gray is in a better condition as he is only busy with himself and his life. However, Andrea should struggle for taking a comfortable place in the society. She works a lot and is as busy as a bee. One cannot say that she is self-centered. However, this self-centrism is felt when Andrea turns into fashionable woman who reaches her goals and gets the job. It is also necessary to mention that Andrea has chosen the wrong example to follow, i.e. Miranda. Miranda does not admit love, feelings, sympathy, etc. She is completely devoted to her career. As to Dorian Gray, he listens to Lord Henry who convinces him of his beauty.

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Ellmann states: “Dorian has like Wilde experimented with two forms of sexuality, love of women and men” (p. 297). However, studying the relationships of Dorian Grey and his attitude to men and women, one can say that this narcissistic boy is not able to love. He does not know the real essence of these feelings. Dorian Gray’s aim is to seduce and then to ruin a person. The chemist Alan Campbell and Lady Gwendolen are the victims of his love.

Impact of Negative Consequences of Influences, Superficiality, and Corruption on Dorian Gray and Adrian

Speaking about the notion of superficiality in The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is necessary to mention that this notion is connected with youth and beauty. Youth and beauty are not everlasting things; that is why, one who pays too much attention to them is superficial and selfish. In this novel, beauty reigns. Dorian Gray is completely devoted to himself; he studies rare tapestries, jewels, and music. He distances himself from everyday routine.

In The Devil Wears Prada, the notion of superficiality is connected with the tough world of fashion business. Andrea, on the contrary, is completely absorbed in her work and career, completely forgetting about her private life. One can notice that Andrea lives not her life, but a life of her boss Miranda. Andrea forgets about her life she had before accepting the job. She changes her image in terms of clothes and these changes influence her inner world.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, there are the negative consequences of influences. Dorian Gray is influenced by Lord Henry who convinces Dorian of his beauty and changes his vision of life. Dorian Gray lives in a society where beauty, physical attractiveness, and youth are highly estimated. As a result, Dorian is influenced badly by a high society.

In The Devil Wears Prada, there are also the negative consequences of influences, but they have a different nature comparing with the novel about Dorian Gray. Andrea is influenced by her boss Miranda and her colleagues. Besides, it is her success that makes her change. Andrea lives in a society where success, career, fashionable clothes are highly estimated.

The superficiality of the society is “the driving force” of corruption for Dorian Gray and Andrea and “restraining force” of the development of their soul and inner world. As a result, Dorian Gray experiences freedom, forgetting about any moral and ethical principles. There is much evidence proving that a person is developing when he/she is busy with any affair. As to Dorian Gray, he is completely absorbed in art, but such devotion limits him and provokes his immoral behavior. Speaking about Andrea, she is also devoted to her career too much, forgetting about her friends and pleasant moments of her life. Such devotion deprives her of happiness and satisfaction.

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For his part, Dorian Gray has power over Basil and manipulates him like he himself has been manipulated by Lord Henry. Lord Henry states: “Something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence.” Indeed, it is very difficult to avoid somebody’s influence, but it is possible to balance this influence and define whether it is positive or negative.

Speaking about the level of corruption of Dorian Gray and Andrea, it is necessary to say that they are different. Dorian Gray undergoes complete corruption of his soul, but with Andrea it is only partial corruption. Moreover, Andrea changes her behavior as at the beginning she is shown as a modest and very kind-hearted girl. One cannot say this about Dorian Gray.

Not less important aspect of The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada is the corruption of personality. When it comes to Dorian Gray, one may speak about complete corruption, including all sides of his life. As to Andrea, she is corrupted not completely as she has her own opinion and attitude to life. These two characters differ in their character and will. Despite Dorian being self-confident and selfish, he is a weak personality. He does not know how to struggle for being himself. He undergoes quick changes under the influence of other people. Andrea is a strong personality, but on the background of Miranda she is becoming a weak one. Andrea is characterized with lack of self-confidence and uncertainty.

Dorian Gray is aware of his physical beauty, so there is no evolution in his attitude to himself. Andrea is not aware of her beauty and her talent in the fashion business, so one can notice the evolution in her attitude to herself. Even without any evolutions in the Dorian’s behaviour, a reader observes the ugliness of his soul.

Without doubt, a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and a movie The Devil Wears Prada have many similarities, especially when it concerns themes and images. Both characters have suffered from corruption, negative influence, and superficiality. These are really problematic points, and in spite of differences in characters’ behavior and education, their actions prove their weakness and unwillingness to be themselves.

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Both sources are common in that their characters want to be in the centre of attention, to be praised, admired, and impressed. Dorian Gray has it in his blood. As to Andrea, she wants this under the influence of her surrounding in which she spends too much time. The main thing is that the authors of these works do not condemn the behavior of the characters. They give an opportunity to their readers and viewers to make their own conclusions.

Differences in the behaviour of Dorian Gray can be explained through the theme of private life. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, there are triangular relationships of Dorian Gray, Lord Henry Wotton, and Basil Hallward. However, studying the relationships of Dorian Gray and his attitude to men and women, one can say that this narcissistic boy is not able to love. He does not know the real essence of these feelings. Dorian Gray’s aim is to seduce and then to ruin a person. The chemist Alan Campbell and Lady Gwendolen are the victims of his love. As to Andrea, she has a loving man who condemns her passion of the fashion business and her changes; that is why, Andrea is not as corrupted as Dorian Gray.

Frankly speaking, The Devil Wears Prada helps to understand The Picture of Dorian Gray in a bit different light. At first, I categorically condemned the actions of Dorian Gray. However, Andrea helped me to understand that she was not corrupted completely as she was a strong personality and she had friends and a loving man who began to ignore her because of her conduct. As to Dorian Gray, he was too weak to struggle with selfishness and people who surrounded him (they were not his friends) and only reinforced this selfishness and love of himself.
The Devil Wears Prada helped me to understand that the problems of corruption, negative influence, and superficiality are modern notions. In spite of changes of values in the society, the problem remains urgent and sharp.

In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the themes of The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada are similar. Superficiality and corruption of the personality are depicted differently in both works. In The Portrait of Dorian Gray, the narcissistic nature of the main character is evident. One cannot become selfish as one is born selfish, and this feature is developing under the influence of different circumstances and people.

Comparing with Dorian Gray who provokes very contradictory feelings, Andrea evokes sympathy, desire to help and support. In spite of her beauty, she is persuaded that she is far from perfection and that she could never reach such a level as Miranda. If in Dorian Gray one could see too much self-confidence and selfishness, here one could see too much underestimation and lack of self-confidence. In both cases, there is no golden middle ground. Too much self-confidence is as bad as lack of self-confidence.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, superficiality is connected with youth and beauty.

In The Devil Wears Prada, the notion of superficiality is connected with the tough world of fashion business.

In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the themes of The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Devil Wears Prada are similar. Superficiality and corruption of the personality are depicted differently in both works. In The Portrait of Dorian Gray, the narcissistic nature of the main character is evident. One cannot become selfish, one is born selfish, and this feature is developing under the influence of different circumstances and people.