Review: “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

A beautiful, young man, Dorian Gray, sits for a painter called Basil who has fallen in love with him. The artist paints a lifelike portrait of Dorian, capturing all his wonders. The words of Lord Henry, stranger at the time who later becomes Dorian’s friend, urges him to realise his beauty and treasure it while he is still young, because it will fade away with time. The young man makes a remark, wishing that he could remain forever young, whilst the picture could grow old instead. And so it happens. Dorian hides the painting, afraid that someone might find out the truth. As the time passes by, his beauty remains unaltered, however the painted face bares all the evidence of Dorian’s life.

It is better not to be different from one’s fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world.

The devil’s bargain that is the primary topic of this novel is not a new concept in literature. Dorian sells his soul in order to keep a hold on what he treasures the most – in this case, it is his body’s appearance. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” brilliantly describes few of the universal themes, such as shallowness, narcissism and cruelty. As the young man’s life continues, he becomes more and more affected by his secret, taking up more drastic actions.

Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.

The 3 main, above mentioned, characters in this novel form a well balanced mix. Dorian, who is a young, naïve and easily manipulated boy at the start, is accompanied by Basil, who as much as he is biased due to his feeling, also puts Dorian’s good first. Lord Henry posses the power, he tried to dominate the young man.

Yes; he would try to be to Dorian Gray what, without knowing it, the lad was to the painter who has fashioned the wonderful portrait. He would seek to dominate him – had already, indeed, half done so. He would make that wonderful spirit his own.

This novel dives deep into the psychology of humans and their motives, the dialogues could be analysed for hours – they were phenomenal. Especially insightful ones were the ones between Lord Henry and Dorian. Although a lot of it can be found offensive nowadays, the character of Lord Henry in particular can be a bit disrespectful.

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early or be respectable.

There are some tedious descriptions you have to get through but there isn’t that many (beware of Chapter 11 as not to fall asleep).

The plot travels the full circle when Dorian realises he finally has to face the consequences of his actions and retribute his soul for his sins.

I am conscious that this book could be talked about for months, with more and more stuff being realised about it. It is hard to write a review of it, simply because there is so many aspects of it that can be looked at individually as well as part of the whole. I did enjoy it, more than I thought I would, if I’m honest.

The books that the world calls immortal are books that show the world its own shame.

And “The Picture of Dorian Gray” did just that.

Have you read it, what did you think of it? Please, let me know down in the comment section below!

Thank you for reading this review and until next time, Dream On, Dreamers!

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