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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. Of
course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the
beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has
gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of
society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the
secret of religion-these are the two things that govern us. And
yet--” “Just turn your head a little more to the right, Dorian, like a
good boy,” said the painter, deep in his work, and conscious only
that a look had come into the lad’s face that he had never seen
“And yet,” continued Lord Henry, in his low, musical voice, and
with that graceful wave of the hand that was always so
characteristic of him, and that he had even in his Eton days, “I
believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and
completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every
thought, reality to every dream-I believe that the world would
gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the
maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal-to
something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the
bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the
savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives.
We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to
strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. The body sins once,
and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification.
Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the
luxury of a regret. 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. It has been said that the
great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain,
and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also.
You, Mr. Gray, you yourself, with your rose-red youth and your
rose-white boyhood, you have had passions that have made you
afraid, thoughts that have filled you with terror, daydreams and
sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with
shame-” “Stop!” faltered Dorian Gray, “stop! you bewilder me. I
don’t know what to say. There is some answer to you, but I cannot
find it. Don’t speak. Let me think.
Or, rather, let me try not to think.” For nearly ten minutes he stood
there, motionless, with parted lips, and eyes strangely bright. He