The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Pages [paperback]: 229
Opening Lines: The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.
Memorable Quote: “You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”
Favorite Character: Sibyl Vane
Spellbound before his own portrait, Dorian Gray utters a fateful wish. In exchange for eternal youth he gives his soul, to be corrupted by the malign influence of his mentor, the aesthete and hedonist Lord Henry Wotton. The novel was met with moral outrage by contemporary critics who, dazzled perhaps by Wilde’s brilliant style, may have confused the author with his creation, Lord Henry, to whom even Dorian protests, ‘You cut life to pieces with your epigrams.’. Encouraged by Lord Henry to substitute pleasure for goodness and art for reality, Dorian tries to watch impassively as he brings misery and death to those who love him. But the picture is watching him, and, made hideous by the marks of sin, it confronts Dorian with the reflection of his fall from grace, the silent bearer of what is in effect a devastating moral judgement.
I had to read this as part of my school’s summer reading. The Picture of Dorian Gray tells the story of a young man who seemingly has everything-wealth, good looks-and throws away his good reputation for the chance to stay forever young and beautiful. As the book progresses, the painting that grows older becomes a sort of conscience for Dorian.
This book is very dark and the ending is very surprising and twisted. But I actually liked it. It was deep in an absurd sort of way, that makes the reader think about why they shouldn’t behave as the characters are.
I would definitely recommend this, whether you’re trying to get through the classics or just looking for a novel to enjoy. Though this was published in 1890, there are some themes that are still obvious in the modern world.
I give The Picture of Dorian Gray 4/5 stars.