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There have been many “great works” written and published around the world. One might wonder what exactly qualifies a piece to be considered a great work. Well, it is clear that great works all consist of the main character having internal conflict that affects his/her life. This internal conflict consists of the main character wanting to pursue something that he/she thinks is worth having but in the end he/she realizes that, that which they pursue will lead them to unhappiness, self-destruction, and isolating them from people who love them as they are. When they overcome this internal conflict and come to the realization that what they are pursuing leads them down this forsaken road, it makes them a better person. A great work is about overcoming the internal conflict and redeeming oneself. The main characters, Pip in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations ,Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Darcy in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, all represent the idea that a great work is comprised of the main character having an internal conflict of pursuing that greatly affects his/her life, in which they eventually overcome. Based on the development of the main characters in these novels, we can infer that the main character, Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, has an underlying internal conflict that affects his life that he eventually overcomes, making the novel a great work.
Similarly, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the main character Victor Frankenstein experiences the internal conflict of an excessive thirst for knowledge beyond what exists and discovery of the secret of life. His merciless pursuit for knowledge and the secret of life results in the creation of a creature that is so detestable to him that he immediately rejects it upon first site. Victor’s immediate and continuous rejection of the creature results in a series of deaths of those closest to him. After Victor rejects the creature the first time, the creature goes off the kill his younger brother William in order to hurt his creator. As Victor arrives back home after hearing the unfortunate news, he learns that a young, innocent girl named Justine has been accused of his brother’s murder and she dies as well. He becomes depressed and guilty of the fact that he is well aware that his creation is responsible for the deaths of two innocent people. The madness continues throughout the novel as the creature is constantly denied and degraded by Victor. After the creature convinces Victor to create a female companion for him, while in the process of this replicated creation, he stops to doubt the morality of his actions and destroys it. The creature becomes furious and goes on to murder Victor’s good friend Henry, and later on, his wife Elizabeth. When Victor goes back home, he returns to find out that his father has passed away from bearing too much grief and he devotes his life to finding the creature and inflicting revenge upon him. Victor finds the creature northward and chases him on the ice but the ice cracks and creates a barrier between them. Victor meets his friend Walton and confesses all of his secrets to him. He gets sick and dies shortly after and the creature surprisingly mourns his death and isolates himself as far off northward to go and die himself. Due to the secrecy of Victor’s creation and the consequences that result from it, Victor becomes depressed and remorseful after the deaths of his loved ones and he isolates himself from the world. It seems that Victor himself can be construed as possessing monstrous qualities similar to his creation, as his ambition, secrecy, and selfishness alienate him from human society. His strong feelings of guilt and thirst for revenge causes an obsessive hatred towards the creature he created, consuming his life, body, and soul, suggesting that the true monster lies within him. On the contrary, in confessing all of his secrets to Walton just before he dies, Victor escapes the oppressive secrecy that has ultimately consumed his life. Conclusively, it can be seen that although Victor experienced the internal conflict of thirst for knowledge and discovery of the secret of life, he progressed throughout the novel realizing the immorality of his actions and learning not to continue on with them. Although it takes him up until right before his death to confess his wrongdoings and guilt-trip ridden life, it shows that he overcame his conflict and realized what was important in life as he relayed to Walton.
Likewise, the main character Darcy, in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice must overcome the internal conflict of an immense sense of pride. His pride causes him to isolate himself from others as well as hold prejudice against the Bennet family due to their poverty. From the very beginning, Darcy is snobbish and acts superior to the Bennet family at the first ball which causes the Bennet family to have a strong disgust for him. Darcy disliked them because he was wealthy and of high social class and they were of low social status, socially inept, and poor. Although at first, Darcy did not like Elizabeth because of her family’s status, he grew very fond of her even though her feelings were not mutual in the beginning. Even after he fell in love with Elizabeth, he completely dishonored her family, but he eventually realized that he was going to have to change. Darcy took his behavior and analyzed it to try and figure out why he had treated Elizabeth and her family in such a demeaning manner because he knew it wrong. So, Darcy was forced to deal with his prejudice when he fell in love with Elizabeth. Though this was not easy for him to do, he knew it was essential to eventually win Elizabeth’s love and respect. The first time Darcy proposed to Elizabeth, she immediately refused his offer because she had her own prejudice towards him for being snobbish and arrogant towards her and her family. She was all for hearing awful things about Darcy, so when she met Wickham and he told her about Darcy paying him off to marry her sister, she believed that he was an even worse person than she previously thought, but she came to learn that Wickham was nothing more than a fraud and that Darcy was a good person. She eventually put her prejudices aside and realized that Darcy was the one for her. Darcy fought hard to overcome his intense pride and make Elizabeth believe that he wasn’t the insensitive, snob she first met, so that they could be happy together. In the end, Darcy was able to overcome his immense sense of pride and pursue his feelings for Elizabeth, propose to and marry her, despite the shortcomings of her and her family.
Through the analysis of Pip, Victor, and Darcy, it is evident that a great work consists of an internal conflict that the main character overcomes as it interferes with his/her life and they realize the importance of what is truly important. With this definition of a great work, it is apparent that Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, is indeed a great work due to the internal conflict of being obsessed with one’s youth along with the power of greed and selfishness that the main character Dorian Gray faces. As the novel begins, Dorian is portrayed as youthful, beautiful, and easily influenced. As his friend Basil is in the process of painting a portrait of Dorian, Dorian is introduced to Lord Henry who Basil is concerned will be a negative influence on Dorian, which is apparent at the end of their first encounter. When Basil has completed Dorian’s portrait, it reveals the youth and beauty that Dorian Gray, the person, possesses. When Lord Henry fills Dorian with the idea that his beauty and youth will fade with each day that he lives, Dorian becomes fearful and upset that his new portrait will only remind him of his lost impressive characteristics, so he curses his portrait and wishes that his soul be taken in exchange for his youth and beauty. Dorian falls in love with an actress Sibyl Vane and proposes to her, but his selfishness and greed overcomes him as he breaks up with her because she has decided to act no longer as she does not wish to act as though she is in love on stage since she has experienced the real thing. He sees the first change in his portrait which reveals that his wish to remain youthful has come to be, as he is informed the next morning that Sibyl has committed suicide. It is shown that Dorian’s selfishness, greed, and wish to remain youthful has gotten the best of him as his new goal is to pursue a life of pleasure no matter the consequences. Dorian continues to see the dreadful change in his portrait as the years go on and his actions continue to be immoral and unjust. This is illustrated when Dorian is confronted by Basil and he decides to show Basil the appalling site that his portrait has become and kills Basil in a frightful rage. After a long life of corrupt and immoral behavior, Dorian finally comes to the realization that youth and beauty is not the most important thing in life as he is in dismay at the thought of murdering his dear friend Basil. When Dorian comes to this realization, he takes the knife he used to kill Basil and destroys the portrait, which symbolized him killing himself as the portrait portrayed the true ugliness of his soul. Dorian recognized that he shouldn’t have gone on living a life filled with immoral and selfish actions and behavior. Thus, Dorian eventually overcame his internal conflict of selfishness, greed, and obsession with youth and beauty as he realized that these were not the most important things in life. Therefore, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray can be defined as a great work.
In conclusion, it is apparent that in order for a novel to be characterized as a great work, a main character must undergo the process of overcoming an internal conflict that consumes his/her life in which they eventually redeem themselves. Thus, through the depiction of the main characters, Pip in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Darcy in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, we can deduce that Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is considered a great work.
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