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Comparative Narcissistic Study of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jerry Maguire
The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jerry Maguire both portray narcissistic protagonists with
resembling personality traits and a superficial outlook on life. Throughout the novel and the film,
both characters lose their sense of ethics and morals but come to the realization in different ways.
While Jerry from Jerry Maguire is able to become a compassionate member of society through
his change of views and actions, Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray has less of a
desire to make such changes and loses himself in the horror of what he has become as mirrored
in the portrait.
Oscar Wilde, the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, depicts his protagonist, Dorian,
as a handsome young man, a well-educated aristocrat and a talented musician. His grandfather
deprives Dorian of love, by disapproving him from a tender age, murdering Dorian’s father,
which leads to the eventual death of his mother. Brought up in an environment that lacks any
meaningful connection directly results in Dorian seeking himself as an object of desire, which
ultimately results to his narcissistic nature. Dorian barely has any meaningful relationships until
he meets Lord Henry and Basil. Henry’s admiration for Dorian’s lack of self-awareness and
beauty is apparent as he calls him “Prince Charming,” while Dorian admires Henry’s wit and
cynical views about the world around him. Basil also contributes to creating Dorian’s flawed
view of self, through adoration of Dorian’s physical attributes and projection through his
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painting. It was not until Dorian sees his lifelike portrait when he reveals narcissism by
becoming self-conscious about his appearance.
“When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with
pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the
first time. He stood there motionless, and in wonder… Basil Hallward’s
compliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggerations of
friendship …Then had come Lord Henry, with his strange panegyric on youth
That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his
own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him” (Wilde 40).
Dorian’s realization of his beauty was as momentous as his sudden recognition of the
frailty of his own attractiveness. He realizes that his beauty would one day fade away. How sad
it is! I shall grow old and horrid, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young”
(Wilde 42). At this point, there is the symbolic deal with the devil, in which Dorian admits that
he would sell his soul to preserve his youthful appearance while the portrait ages in his place.
Dorian’s narcissism is further brought to light upon the introduction of Sibyl Vane. She is an
actor and an object of obsession for Dorian. He falls in love with her performances to the extent
of professing his love for her. He invites Lord Henry to one of her performances, only for her to
perform poorly. This enrages Dorian to which he admits his disappointment to Sibyl. Dorian’s
broken heart suggests that he was not really in love with Sibyl, but rather in love with her craft,
which is a form of narcissism. Sibyl eventually commits suicide and at this point, Dorian notices
the discernable horrid changes to his portrait.
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Surname 3
In the movie Jerry Maguire, the protagonist, Jerry, is a zealous sports agent and key to
the success of the company Sports Management International, and an admired agent of over 70
clients. One of his client suffers a concussion and Jerry has a late-night epiphany that moves him
to write down a mission statement aimed at cutting down on the number of clients in order to
improve client-agent relationship. Jerry’s letter brings attention to the detrimental character
building that play out off-screen. The letter attempts to mark a defining moment in Jerry’s moral
worldview, marking him as an intrepid and innovative corporate whose ideas supersede those of
his shortsighted peers. However, the fact that he thinks that his musings deserve to be
immediately read by everyone, where he goes on to print copies for everyone, despite admitting
that he has little experience in writing memos, and the fact that he strongly feels that the
company should take on the directive of his memo, shows more evidence of narcissism than
selflessness.
Jerry admits that he has little experience in writing memos. This, however, does not stop
him from writing 25-pages of his reveries. The document attempts to explain how his plan would
work, but instead comes out as a collection of aphorisms that feel like ramblings from a man that
had listened to one too many motivational speeches. To most, the memo seems like a bold
statement of values but makes little to no sense from the perspective of the company, which is
why he struggles to convince anyone (but Dorothy) to quit their jobs to start a new company. He
is actually perplexed that no one seems interested in his offer, including his secretary, which
further points out to his towering narcissistic nature.
Wilde uses perfect depictions in The Picture of Dorian Gray to accentuate Gray’s
irrational and narcissistic tendencies, even upon realizing his vices of rage and lust. Instead of
attempting to right his wrongs, or become a better version of himself, he obsesses over his youth,
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fixating on his youthful candor, the kind that captivated Basil in the first place. While the beauty
of his portrait formerly enraptured him, he now sees it as the one true testament to his malevolent
demeanor. He despises how the painting grows more and more appalling due to his immorality.
“It was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at.
Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his
renunciation than that? … and this murder,—was it to dog him all his life?
Was he never to get rid of the past? Was he really to confess? No. There was
only one bit of evidence left against him. The picture itself,that was
evidence. He would destroy it” (Wilde 247).
At this point, Wilde seizes the opportunity to heighten the protagonist’s narcissism.
Rather than expiating to his vices, Dorian prefers to justify his sins and ignore his past. He mulls
over destroying his portrait as a ploy to preserve his perfect image. He assures himself that the
action would preserve his ‘good character’ and stabs the painting. To his dismay, attempting to
destroy the painting brings harm to himself, where he is found dead while the painting is
reinstated to its original beauty. This is a perfect description of how the protagonist’s narcissism
leads to poor decision-making and ultimately costs his life.
The protagonist in Jerry Maguire takes on a different approach, upon the realization of
his own vanity. Rod Tidwell, Jerry’s sole client and a talented wide receiver whose egoism gets
in his way, has a big game coming up (a Monday Night Football game).Jerry had finally had an
honest conversation with Rod a few nights before the game, where he called out on Rod’s self-
centeredness. The conversation was a positive step towards improving Jerry’s relationship with
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his client-turned-friend, Rod. On his big night, Rod plays fairly well, but suffers an injury upon
scoring a touchdown. At this moment, Jerry’s true character and relationship with Rod is
underlined, as Jerry does everything he can to comfort Rod’s family. Rod recovers and dances
passionately to a cheering crowd and later embraces Jerry in front of cameras, agents, and pro
athletes, which is also defining moment in the protagonist’s relationship with his client, and
stands in line with the main points that Jerry highlights in his mission statement. Rod later learns,
on national television, that Jerry had secured him a lucrative $11.2 million contract with his
desired team. The discernibly emotional Rod shows gratitude to his friend Jerry, which is also a
transcending moment in the protagonist’s progression from a narcissist to a selfless individual.
Jerry’s relationship with Dorothy also takes a positive turn, after he flies back home to proclaim
his love for her and admits to wanting her back in her life. This is a significant moment in the
protagonist’s life, as we come to realize that his desire to have Dorothy in her life now, is out of
love, in contrast to his initial decision to marry her just to fill a void in his life, or as he puts it,
“because she was loyal.
In conclusion, Oscar Wilde highlights in his classic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray,
the corruptible nature of humans through the influence of Lord Henry and Basil on Dorian Gray.
The corruptible nature of human beings becomes apparent through the protagonist in the movie
Jerry Maguire, where the aggressive nature of Jerry’s work consumes his ethics and morals.
While both protagonists come to some sort of realization, in varied ways, about their evolving
nature, each protagonist takes on different approaches to their respective realizations. Dorian
embraces the role of a ‘corrupter’ upon himself, where he delights in leading the people around
him only to become a horrific misanthropist, Jerry, on the other hand, takes a step back to fix
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what he feels is wrong, and in the process learns to love and appreciate the people around him, to
become a compassionate member of society.
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Surname 7
Works Cited
Crowe, Cameron. Jerry Maguire. Sony, 1996.
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 1891.

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Surname 1 Name Instructor Course Date Comparative Narcissistic Study of The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jerry Maguire The Picture of Dorian Gray and Jerry Maguire both portray narcissistic protagonists with resembling personality traits and a superficial outlook on life. Throughout the novel and the film, both characters lose their sense of ethics and morals but come to the realization in different ways. While Jerry from Jerry Maguire is able to become a compassionate member of society through his change of views and actions, Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray has less of a desire to make such changes and loses himself in the horror of what he has become as mirrored in the portrait. Oscar Wilde, the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, depicts his protagonist, Dorian, as a handsome young man, a well-educated aristocrat and a talented musician. His grandfather deprives Dorian of love, by disapproving him from a tender age, murdering Dorian’s father, which leads to the eventual death of his mother. Brought up in an environment that lacks any meaningful connection directly results in Dorian seeking himself as an object of desire, which ultimately results to his narcissistic nature. Dorian barely has any meaningful relationships until he meets Lord Henry and Basil. Henry’s admiration for Dorian’s lack of self-awareness and beauty is apparent as he calls him “Prince Charming,” while Dorian admires Henry’s wit and cynical views about the world around him. Basil also contributes to creating Dorian’s flawed view of self, through adoration of Dorian’s physical attributes and projection through his Surname 2 painting. It was not until Dorian sees his lifelike portrait when he reveals narcissism by becoming self-conscious about his appearance. “When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time. He stood there motionless, and in wonder… Basil Hallward’s compliments had seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggerations of friendship …Then had come Lord Henry, with his strange panegyric on youth … That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him” (Wilde 40). Dorian’s realization of his beauty was as momentous as his sudden recognition of the frailty of his own attractiveness. He realizes that his beauty would one day fade away. “How sad it is! I shall grow old and horrid, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young” (Wilde 42). At this point, there is the symbolic deal with the devil, in which Dorian admits that he would sell his soul to preserve his youthful appearance while the portrait ages in his place. Dorian’s narcissism is further brought to light upon the introduction of Sibyl Vane. She is an actor and an object of obsession for Dorian. He falls in love with her performances to the extent of professing his love for her. He invites Lord Henry to one of her performances, only for her to perform poorly. This enrages Dorian to which he admits his disappointment to Sibyl. Dorian’s broken heart suggests that he was not really in love with Sibyl, but rather in love with her craft, which is a form of narcissism. Sibyl eventually commits suicide and at this point, Dorian notices the discernable horrid changes to his portrait. Surname 3 In the movie Jerry Maguire, the protagonist, Jerry, is a zealous sports agent and key to the success of the company Sports Management International, and an admired agent of over 70 clients. One of his client suffers a concussion and Jerry has a late-night epiphany that moves him to write down a mission statement aimed at cutting down on the number of clients in order to improve client-agent relationship. Jerry’s letter brings attention to the detrimental character building that play out off-screen. The letter attempts to mark a defining moment in Jerry’s moral worldview, marking him as an intrepid and innovative corporate whose ideas supersede those of his shortsighted peers. However, the fact that he thinks that his musings deserve to be immediately read by everyone, where he goes on to print copies for everyone, despite admitting that he has little experience in writing memos, and the fact that he strongly feels that the company should take on the directive of his memo, shows more evidence of narcissism than selflessness. Jerry admits that he has little experience in writing memos. This, however, does not stop him from writing 25-pages of his reveries. The document attempts to explain how his plan would work, but instead comes out as a collection of aphorisms that feel like ramblings from a man that had listened to one too many motivational speeches. To most, the memo seems like a bold statement of values but makes little to no sense from the perspective of the company, which is why he struggles to convince anyone (but Dorothy) to quit their jobs to start a new company. He is actually perplexed that no one seems interested in his offer, including his secretary, which further points out to his towering narcissistic nature. Wilde uses perfect depictions in The Picture of Dorian Gray to accentuate Gray’s irrational and narcissistic tendencies, even upon realizing his vices of rage and lust. Instead of attempting to right his wrongs, or become a better version of himself, he obsesses over his youth, Surname 4 fixating on his youthful candor, the kind that captivated Basil in the first place. While the beauty of his portrait formerly enraptured him, he now sees it as the one true testament to his malevolent demeanor. He despises how the painting grows more and more appalling due to his immorality. “It was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? … and this murder,—was it to dog him all his life? Was he never to get rid of the past? Was he really to confess? No. There was only one bit of evidence left against him. The picture itself,—that was evidence. He would destroy it” (Wilde 247). At this point, Wilde seizes the opportunity to heighten the protagonist’s narcissism. Rather than expiating to his vices, Dorian prefers to justify his sins and ignore his past. He mulls over destroying his portrait as a ploy to preserve his perfect image. He assures himself that the action would preserve his ‘good character’ and stabs the painting. To his dismay, attempting to destroy the painting brings harm to himself, where he is found dead while the painting is reinstated to its original beauty. This is a perfect description of how the protagonist’s narcissism leads to poor decision-making and ultimately costs his life. The protagonist in Jerry Maguire takes on a different approach, upon the realization of his own vanity. Rod Tidwell, Jerry’s sole client and a talented wide receiver whose egoism gets in his way, has a big game coming up (a Monday Night Football game).Jerry had finally had an honest conversation with Rod a few nights before the game, where he called out on Rod’s selfcenteredness. The conversation was a positive step towards improving Jerry’s relationship with Surname 5 his client-turned-friend, Rod. On his big night, Rod plays fairly well, but suffers an injury upon scoring a touchdown. At this moment, Jerry’s true character and relationship with Rod is underlined, as Jerry does everything he can to comfort Rod’s family. Rod recovers and dances passionately to a cheering crowd and later embraces Jerry in front of cameras, agents, and pro athletes, which is also defining moment in the protagonist’s relationship with his client, and stands in line with the main points that Jerry highlights in his mission statement. Rod later learns, on national television, that Jerry had secured him a lucrative $11.2 million contract with his desired team. The discernibly emotional Rod shows gratitude to his friend Jerry, which is also a transcending moment in the protagonist’s progression from a narcissist to a selfless individual. Jerry’s relationship with Dorothy also takes a positive turn, after he flies back home to proclaim his love for her and admits to wanting her back in her life. This is a significant moment in the protagonist’s life, as we come to realize that his desire to have Dorothy in her life now, is out of love, in contrast to his initial decision to marry her just to fill a void in his life, or as he puts it, “because she was loyal.” In conclusion, Oscar Wilde highlights in his classic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the corruptible nature of humans through the influence of Lord Henry and Basil on Dorian Gray. The corruptible nature of human beings becomes apparent through the protagonist in the movie Jerry Maguire, where the aggressive nature of Jerry’s work consumes his ethics and morals. While both protagonists come to some sort of realization, in varied ways, about their evolving nature, each protagonist takes on different approaches to their respective realizations. Dorian embraces the role of a ‘corrupter’ upon himself, where he delights in leading the people around him only to become a horrific misanthropist, Jerry, on the other hand, takes a step back to fix Surname 6 what he feels is wrong, and in the process learns to love and appreciate the people around him, to become a compassionate member of society. Surname 7 Works Cited Crowe, Cameron. Jerry Maguire. Sony, 1996. Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. 1891. Name: Description: ...
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