Balancing Of Good And Evil in ‘Dracula’ And ‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray’

Dracula and the Picture of Dorian Gray were both books written a long time ago where they were supposed to shock the original readers. Dracula is a novel written by Bram Stoker. It is set in the Victorian era, but much of the novel takes place in Dracula’s dank and eerie castle. The plot centers around a young English lawyer who travels to Castle Dracula in Transylvania to explain the logistical details to Count Dracula who wants to purchase a house in England.

But in reality, the Count wants to move there, so he can find new blood and spread vampirism. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a book written by Oscar Wilde. It was set in the Decadent artistic movement of the late nineteenth century, the plot centers around a young handsome man name Dorian who meets a painter that became captivated with him and uses him as a model. Lord Henry pays the painter a visit to see his latest work and spots the young man on the painting and begins to introduce him to the hedonistic pleasures of the city.

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In both of the novels the characters struggle with balancing good and evil, due to corruption/pleasures, duplicity, and purity.

Different environments can make people change into a good person or an evil one. For instance, let’s say a person has a bad group of friends that their parents wouldn’t agree with. If they are doing something that could be considered a bad influence on the person then after a while, the person will get used to the bad actions and believe that if their doing it and haven’t faced the consequences then it must be okay if they do it to.

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These circumstances are similar to how these characters become corrupted in their stories.

In the Picture of Dorian Gray, we see a naïve young man named Dorian who wants to fit into a bad society even though fitting in would lead him toward the path of corruption. In following this path, he was turned into a worse version of the “devil” also known as Lord Henry. It was foreshadowed that Lord Henry found that “there was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence “and succeed in “molded him". The novel states “Don’t spoil him. Don’t try to influence him. Your influence would be bad” it was concluded that the Lord Henry was capable of corruption and would eventually turn the main character evil. He is so captivated by living the life he doesn’t even know that he has changed. He questions himself after a major incident but then hears the “devil” tell him that all is forgiven if he ignores it. In Dracula, the villain wants to move away from where he has lived for many years to a new place to wreak havoc on innocent people. Ultimately the corruption (need for blood) makes him go frantic and lead him to his downfall. The narrator states that “he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.” In the beginning, we see that corruption changes him into a different person. But when that is taken away he is back to normal. Because of the being that he now is, it forces him to eschew others so he doesn’t reveal his true self. As the narrators in both novel show how the villains maneuver among the temptations or corruptions of life, they are reminded that everyone has their own corruptions to deal with and demons with which to battle.

Some people argue that being deceitful is associated with being evil. As humans, we tell lies it’s a fundamental part of being human. But like the saying “there is nothing hidden that will not be reveled” we see that it does happen to the characters in the story. For, the main character in the Picture of Dorian Gray we see that he has a corrupt soul and yet the exterior of beauty and innocence hide the evil from the onlookers. The narrator explains, “When the blood crept from his face and left behind a pallid mask of chalk, he would keep the glamour of boyhood” (Wilde 103). He was thought as an angel because they expected him to never do anything bad because of how he looks. He has this false image that is projected to the people who don’t really know him. Everything bad that has happened to other people that he causes changes him and the people who he hurts which in turns, makes him feel better about himself, so he continues to do it again and again; hence making him an eviler person. In Dracula, we see the same problem. For instance, look at Count Dracula he appears as a respectable somewhat nice old gentleman. But that wasn’t true the narrator states that “his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury”. It states all the good and none of the evil about him but later he blunders, and we see the true side of him. Being deceitful is his way to change his appearance of an evil savage beast. As it is seen in both novels we do indeed see that truths come out. And being deceitful is considered being evil. But considering that these books came out long ago that could play a factor.

There’s a difference between being pure and good and being bad and evil. Being fully pure isn’t exactly a good thing. But neither is being fully evil. To amplify this cause, it can be seen that in the Picture of Dorian Gray there is a girl named Sybil, the book described her as being pure and young. The text says that, “Her flower like lips touched the withered cheeks and warmed its frost”. Using this as an example shows that maybe being all pure will lead to your downfall. It’s kind of the same way with flowers they are pretty and pure but they only last so long. But maybe having a good balance between good and evil will make them last longer without any problems. In Dracula, they associate woman with being evil. In most cases women are thought to be pure but in this story, they aren’t. A female character named Lucy was characterized as “looking sweet and pretty in her white frock”. She was always seen wearing white and the color is associated with purity. It was thought that she was pure before meeting Dracula, but after changing into a different being we see that she becomes evil. She changed into a whole different person when she begins to arrogate children and has to be stopped. There’s was nothing the same about her after she changed. She was also the first out of the group to get corrupted. Being pure and naive isn’t a good thing we see that in both of the stories. Purity is setting you up for corruption. This novel shows that the innocent is usually the first and easiest to be corrupted.

At some point in life people all have a low point. Could corruption change people like they did these two characters in the books? Will they make it before it’s too late to be saved? Could one little mistake make their world come crashing down? These thoughts are conflicting. In both books, the villains do come to accept what has become of them and even realize their mistakes at the end. But only realize after finding a banal of balancing out evil and good, and staying away from corruption/pleasures, duplicity, and purity.

Works cited

  1. Stoker, B. (2009). Dracula. Penguin Classics.
  2. Wilde, O. (2003). The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin Classics.
  3. Senf, C. (1988). The vampire in nineteenth-century English literature. University of Wisconsin Press.
  4. Fergus, J. (2003). Oscar Wilde: The picture of Dorian Gray. Routledge.
  5. Glennis, B. (1988). The picture of Dorian Gray and the aesthetic movement in England. Journal of Modern Literature, 15(1), 109-122.
  6. Wisker, G. (2005). Horror Fiction: An Introduction. Continuum.
  7. Clasby, N. R. (2015). "Dracula" and the Vampire Myth. Salem Press Encyclopedia.
  8. Foster, R. (2010). The vampire as metaphor. SAGE Publications.
  9. Dobson, M. (2012). Corrupting the youth: Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. English Studies in Canada, 38(4), 85-108.
  10. Skal, D. J. (1996). Hollywood gothic: The tangled web of Dracula from novel to stage to screen. Faber and Faber.
Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Balancing Of Good And Evil in ‘Dracula’ And ‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray’. (2024, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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