The power of one to affect another is a theme that pervades the novel. At first, Basil is influenced by his model Dorian. On a personal level, he is confused and changed by his romantic feelings, but Dorian’s influence is also more far-reaching, actually seeming to change Basil's ability for painting, and to change the painting itself in an almost supernatural way. Influence here describes an almost chemical change that one can assign to feelings and the perception of a painting. The same curse befalls Sybil Vane, when she is so influenced by Dorian, and by love, that she is transformed and can no longer act. In fact the whole course of events can be viewed as a series of domino-like influences. When the narrator recounts the series of bad relationships, where Dorian has led an innocent friend astray, the influences spread through the country, knowing no bounds.
Influence is also shown in the novel as a persuasive power. It is a less magical effect, of attractive ideas and styles worming their way into others’ vocabulary. Lord Henry’s philosophies and paradoxes have a hypnotic power on some people, and cause Dorian to seek knowledge and believe in these theories enough that he lives by them. Henry’s suggestion that the soul and the senses can mutually cure each other, for example, arises in Dorian’s mind and, out of context, misguides him into thinking that opium could soothe his soul.
Influence Quotes in The Picture of Dorian Gray
“I never approve or disapprove of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life.”
“So I have murdered Sybil Vane,” said Dorian Gray, half to himself, “murdered her as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife. Yet the roses are not less lovely for that.”
It was a poisonous book. The heavy odour of incense seemed to cling about its pages and trouble the brain.
“It is not in you Dorian to commit a murder. I am sorry if I hurt your vanity by saying so, but I assure you it is true. Crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders. I don’t blame them in the smallest degree. I should fancy that crime was to them what art is to us, simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations.”