An essay comparing the book "The picture of Dorian Gray" to “Stavrogin's Confession” by Fyodor Dostoevsky excerpt in "The Evil and the Guilty".
An essay comparing the book "The picture of Dorian Gray" to “Stavrogin's Confession” by Fyodor Dostoevsky excerpt in "The Evil and the Guilty" (Sackett, GreatBooksAll.htm).
The two novels ‘The picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde and “Stavrogin's Confession "(Woolf-Stavrogin) by Fyodor Dostoevsky are the remarkable pieces of literature. However, the prime difference between the two is that of structure and style. The novel "The picture of Dorian Gray" is the only published novel by Oscar Wilde, which made its first appearance in a magazine. The novel displays strong belief of the main character (Dorian Gray) in hedonism, which fostered the wish of the protagonist (Dorian Gray) to stay young and divert all age related impacts on his portrait rather than his physical being.
The other excerpt is from the novel ‘demons’ from the suppressed chapter, ‘Stavrogin's Confession’ (Woolf-Stavrogin). The referred chapter was censored on grounds of controversial content, in this passage the centre of discussion is a guilty and tormented rebel who visits an orthodox bishop (Russian by origin) to confess his actual and imagined acts that he counts as sins. In the flow of his confession, the protagonist unleashed some other facts involuntarily. Therefore, mystery and culpability are the basic elements of the two stories with core themes of morality, ethics, transformation, guilt and evil. The details of these elements are also evaluated in the anthology series of discussion groups of ‘Great Books Foundation’. It refers the two pieces of literature as masterpieces and offers discussion groups for evaluation of literary elements of the content. In this essay efforts are being drawn to add value to the literary elements by comparing the excerpts of "The picture of Dorian Gray" to Stavrogin's Confession by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
As mentioned earlier though the structure and content of the two excerpts are constructed on the themes of malevolence, yet the penetrating analysis of the content supports literature for genuine judgment. The two pieces are not only similar in relation to the theme of evil. as says Basil in the preface of the central character of ‘The picture of Dorian’ (Dostoevsky);
"Dorian, this is horrible! Something has changed you completely. You look exactly the same wonderful boy who, day after day, used to come down to my studio to sit for his picture. But you were simple, natural, and affectionate then. You were the most unspoiled creature in the whole world. Now, I don't know what has come over you. You talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you. It is all Harry's influence. I see that." ((9.2-3)
Thus, the novel depicts that appearance is stronger than the good inside and that appearance should not be compromised for moral values. Therefore, despite of the secret sin of Dorian, he prefers to sustain the impression of his marvellous personality alive, along with bearing his strain of guilt. Likewise in Stavrogin's Confession, similar extravagance was being laid on the appearance of the central character Stavrogin but unlike Dorian’s character, the narrator demonstrate his inability to analyse inner sensation in Stavrogin's Confession . Like in the scene where Shatov slapped Stavrogin, the ability to reveal the inner feelings of the central character by narrator is well elaborated in the dialogue below;
“He said nothing, looked at Shatov, and turned pale as a shirt. But strangely,
his eyes seemed to be dying out. Ten seconds later his look was cold and – I'm
convinced I'm not lying – calm. Only he was very pale. Of course, I do not
know what was inside the man, I only saw the outside” (Woolf-Stavrogin). 6 Ibid., p. 205
Precisely, it can be concluded that the two excerpts are exquisite piece of Guilt and the Evil which strongly support atheism and double standards. Such as in "The picture of Dorian Gray", Dorian plans to secure his positive image in Victorian society despite of being an advocate of evil and at the same time enjoys his hedonistic attribute, when alone. The novel simply depicts that the characters of the novel transform their attitude, according to the need of the time and want. Similarly, same strategy is being followed in the determination of the standards of morality and ethics. The philosophy of the protagonist can be estimated from the quote of "The picture of Dorian Gray" (Dostoevsky), as under;
“There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral -- immoral from the scientific point of view.""Why?""Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly -- that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. (2.8)
The theme of transformation can also be monitored in Stavrogin's Confession, that demonstrates the same element of controversial standards of morality and ethics;
: 'I am capable now as ever before of wishing to do a
good deed, and I take pleasure in that; along with it, I wish for evil and also feel pleasure. But both, the one and the other, as always, are too shallow, and are never very much (Woolf-Stavrogin).'1313 Ibid., p. 675
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Britian: Oscar Wilde, 1890.
Sackett. GreatBooksAll. 30 June 2013. 27 Sep 2013 <http://www.sackett.net/GreatBooksAll.htm>.
Woolf-Stavrogin. Stavrogin's Confession. Richmond: Leonard and Verginia woolf at Hogarth Press, 1922.