Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


degrade. Who could say where the fleshly impulse ceased, or the
psychical impulse began? How shallow were the arbitrary
definitions of ordinary psychologists! And yet how difficult to
decide between the claims of the various schools! Was the soul a
shadow seated in the house of sin? Or was the body really in the
soul, as Giordano Bruno thought? The separation of spirit from
matter was a mystery, and the union of spirit with matter was a
mystery also.

He began to wonder whether we could ever make psychology so
absolute a science that each little spring of life would be revealed to
us. As it was, we always misunderstood ourselves, and rarely
understood others. Experience was of no ethical value. It was
merely the name men gave to their mistakes. Moralists had, as a
rule, regarded it as a mode of warning, had claimed for it a certain
ethical efficacy in the formation of character, had praised it as
something that taught us what to follow and showed us what to
avoid. But there was no motive power in experience. It was as little
of an active cause as conscience itself. All that it really
demonstrated was that our future would be the same as our past,
and that the sin we had done once, and with loathing, we would
do many times, and with joy.

It was clear to him that the experimental method was the only
method by which one could arrive at any scientific analysis of the
passions; and certainly Dorian Gray was a subject made to his
hand, and seemed to promise rich and fruitful results. His sudden
mad love for Sibyl Vane was a psychological phenomenon of no
small interest. There was no doubt that curiosity had much to do
with it, curiosity and the desire for new experiences; yet it was not
a simple but rather a very complex passion. What there was in it of
the purely sensuous instinct of boyhood had been transformed by
the workings of the imagination, changed into something that
seemed to the lad himself to be remote from sense, and was for that
very reason all the more dangerous. It was the passions about
whose origin we deceived ourselves that tyrannized most strongly
over us. Our weakest motives were those of whose nature we were
conscious. It often happened that when we thought we were
experimenting on others we were really experimenting on

While Lord Henry sat dreaming on these things, a knock came to
the door, and his valet entered, and reminded him it was time to
dress for dinner. He got up and looked out into the street. The
sunset had smitten into scarlet gold the upper windows of the
houses opposite. The panes glowed like plates of heated metal.
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

All Contents Copyright All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with