Lord Henry Wotton, Victorian Douchebag

Lord Henry Wotton

You know that guy at parties or dinners that everyone listens to? That guy ten people are gathered around, simply riveted by his every word? The heavy bass is booming in the other room, but these sheeple are sitting around him like he’s Gandhi. Maybe it’s his voice, or the way he dresses, you think.

No, it’s probably because he has a little “social momentum.” One person thought what he was saying was interesting and sat near him to hear him speak. Then another and another, wondering why so many people were listening to him. Then a couple showed up and turned their ear. Next thing you know, there’s a sermon going on in the living room.

coverThePictureofDorianGrayThat is Lord Henry Wotton of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in a nutshell. The Victorian era novel tells the story of a man, Dorian Gray, whose wish to have a portrait of him age and bear the consequences for his life is fulfilled.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a lot like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in that a monster is created. Dr. Frankenstein pulls together the leftover bits of freshly-hanged criminals and reanimates them. In Wilde’s book, Wotton takes the pure innocent canvas of Dorian Gray and paints him to his pleasure. Wotton creates the monster Gray became. Were it not for his influence, Gray would not have made his terrible wish.

Lord Henry Wotton is literally “that guy” that commands, and receives, attention whenever he speaks. His ideas enter the gathering, swim around like eels, and find their way into every mind before the day is done.

People are always talking about Wotton’s philosophies, remembering that one thing he said at that one party. What’s worse is that Wotton can’t be bothered with remembering what he said. At a particularly fancy lunch, Wotton ruminates about nothing in particular, but generally proving himself to be a profound arse. When he is leaving, one of the other guests asks if he really meant what he said during lunch. Wotton responds, “I quite forget what I said…Was it all very bad?”

You read that right. Wotton sometimes talks just to talk. He likes to hear his own voice. He likes that others listen to him.

Wotton is also a hypocrite. He says, “There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral–immoral from the scientific point of view.” Reading the book, you begin to realize that Wotton has the greatest influence on Dorian Gray.

Probably the worst part about Lord Henry Wotton is that he does not receive any consequences for what he says and does. Karma completely skips over him. Dorian’s friends become opium addicts or die, Dorian’s enemies get shot in hunting accidents. What happens to our Victorian “that guy”? His wife divorces him.

Wait, you’re thinking, That’s the universe issuing him a wake-up call! He’ll surely change after that!

Nope. Wotton couldn’t care less about his marital status. Besides, he’s “charming” (read “douchey”) enough that someone else will soon be duped into attaching themselves to him. Besides, he’s so skilled at holding a group’s attention. He knows he’s much better at enrapturing people one on one.

Now, in no particular order, here are some of Wotton’s douchiest thoughts and sayings. Please make special note of the deeply misogynistic things Wotton says:

“I can sympathize with everything except suffering…it is too ugly, too horrible, too distressing.”

“My dear Dorian, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex.”

“My dear Dorian, the only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.”

“I admit that I think it is better to be beautiful than to be good.”

“There’s only one way to get rid of temptation, and that’s to yield to it.”

“Women treat us just as humanity treats its gods. They worship us and keep bothering us to do something for them.”

Quotation-Lord-Henry-Wotton-conscience-cowardice-pleasure-regrets-man-Meetville-Quotes-125963“Conscience is just a polite word for cowardice. No civilized man regrets a pleasure.”

There are no ifs ands or buts about it. We can only properly label Lord Henry Wotton one thing: Victorian Douchebag.


David Fuentez, known at KSSU as DJ Moony, hosts Nerdgasm Radio! Fridays at 5:00 p.m. on kssu.com. He won’t force you to listen, but he can’t promise something bad won’t happen to you if you don’t. 

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