‘The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.’
The Picture of Dorian Gray,
Written by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the only published novel by the Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde, published in 1890, of a classic, beautiful gothic genre holding a strong influence from Faustian.
The novel tells the tale of a young man by the name of Dorian Gray, the subject of a painting by the artist Basil Hallward who becomes the first of many to become infatuated with Dorian’s flawless beauty. This beauty held by Dorian can be seen reflected through the writing style of Wilde, with scenic descriptions and deep metaphors; eliciting vivid imageries, left unforgettable with the mind. The best of these is Dorian’s journey through the dark and soiled streets of London, which contrast greatly to his luxurious entourage but bearing a resemblance to the kind of life he has embraced.
It is so easy to get lost within the pages of this book. The charm and intensity of Wilde’s choice of words can seem daunting at first, but believe me – don’t give up as, soon, you’ll find yourself floating away with the characters.
Wilde questions and reflects on issues among society, which still hold true today. Wilde uses the sharp but sweet tongue of Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil’s, to depict these criticisms and reflections; women, marriage, romance, faith and humanity are some of the copious targets of the novel.
Dorian quickly becomes captivated by the world of Lord Henry.
Lord Henry suggests that the only things ‘worth pursuing in life’ are ‘beauty and fulfilment of the senses’. Unbeknown to the Lord, this insignificant comment would spread through the mind of the young Dorian, and slowly corrupt him with the idea that one day his beauty will fade, with the consequences being unbearable. Dorian expresses a want to sell his soul to allow the portrait, painted of him by Basil, to age instead. This wish is granted, plunging Dorian into debauched acts; the end consequences being disastrous.
Every sin is displayed as a disfigurement of the painted Dorian’s form, serving as a reminder of the effects that each act has upon his soul.
Dorian’s angst about the ephemeral nature of his beauty is shown as the true enemy of a person’s self.
‘There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realise his conception of the beautiful.’
This is one I would recommend to all. Wilde’s cryptic imagery and elongated metaphors are interpreted differently to each individual. So, if you’re looking for a read to plunge you into deep thought, with layered denotations and a deep story line; or a light informative read, with slick descriptions and a clear-cut plot, then pick up this book without hesitation.
‘The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history.’
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