“The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde is an incredible book that will force any reader to look at themselves and the world in a completely different light. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was published in 1890 and was originally just a story in the “Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine.” It was not until 1891 that it was officially published as a book in its own right. Since then, however, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” has been acclaimed as a ‘classic’ and is recommended for almost everyone to read.
This is a very dark book with very few to no shining lights of redemption. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” tells the story of none other than Dorian Gray. Dorian begins the book as an innocent and naive character that is new to London and ‘society’. Throughout the book Dorian loses all of that innocence and naivety. The main characters of this novel are Dorian (obviously), as well as Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton. Basil Hallward is Dorian’s first friend in London and he quickly becomes infatuated with Dorian. In this story, Basil is an incredibly moral character and seems to be the only truly ‘good’ character in the book. Lord Henry, on the other hand, plays the devil on Dorian’s shoulder to Basil’s angel. Lord Henry is a very witty character and most of the best lines in the book come from him, however, his look out on life is very pessimistic. He takes every opportunity to indulge in every hedonist activity that he can.
Upon Dorian’s arrival to London, he is posing for one of Basil’s paintings when he meets Lord Henry. Dorian is immediately taken by Lord Henry’s view of the world. He begins to believe that, as Henry preaches, beauty is the only thing in life that matters. This leads to him wishing that he stays as young and beautiful as he is in that painting. From there Dorian goes on to try and find as much beauty in the world as he can. On a trip to see a play with Lord Henry, Dorian becomes absolutely entranced by Sybil Vane, a beautiful actress. They quickly fall in love and Dorian proposes to Sybil. However, as soon as Sybil experiences love she no longer wishes to act out fake love in theaters. This revelation leads to another: Dorian realizes that he only loves Sybil when she is acting. When Sybil is made aware of this, she takes her own life.
This does not affect Dorian as it would be expected. He decides that a life of lust and pleasure in every form was the perfect thing for him. He spends the next eighteen years indulging in everything. He travels the world and does whatever he pleases. Lord Henry encourages him to enjoy debauchery and all of its forms. Basil, on the other hand, as the voice of reason tries to convince Dorian to become a better person but Dorian will hear nothing of it. Dorian is content in his debauchery and intends to continue. In a last attempt to convince Dorian to change, Basil shows Dorian the painting he did all those years ago. The painting has changed and not for the better. Dorian’s wish to remain as beautiful as in that painting came true. He didn’t change, however, the painting shows all of the sins and the horrors that they have done to his soul. Dorian blames Basil and it leads to a terrifying confrontation. In the very end of the story, Dorian seems to have realized what horrors he has performed but he never truly repents for them.
All in all, this is an absolutely incredible book that is all about the shades of gray that lives are lived in and how beauty is not the most important thing. This book is a great read for anyone who wants to look at the world differently. It will show any reader how their own selfish needs and actions can harm them. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a truly extraordinary novel that anyone should read it they want to feel better about the kind of person that they are. After all, no one is quite as flawed as Dorian Gray.
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