The Picture of Dorian Grey

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The Picture of Dorian Gray was written by Oscar Wilde and published by the Penguin Group. Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, 1854. He went to Trinity College and the University of Oxford. Later on he got two sons with an Irish woman. The picture of Dorian Gray was written 1891. When it was released, the critics thought the book was lacking in moral, but it has since become one of his most celebrated works and is a brilliant example of his power as a storyteller.

The story begins when Basil Hallward, a relatively famous painter, is painting a portrait of his good friend Dorian Gray. Gray himself is extremely good looking and he and his looks impress everybody who meets him. When Gray sees the portrait he gets jealous of the beauty that’s in it and realises that he himself will grow old, but the portrait will stay as wonderful as it is now. He then makes a wild outburst: “If it were I who were to be always young and the picture to grow old…I would give my soul for it.” A few weeks pass and Dorian makes a mistake that results in a woman’s suicide. He now notices that the picture seems to grow uglier as soon as he does something evil. People starts to talk about him, they cannot understand why he is looking so young and untouched by the world when in fact he is pretty old. Gray becomes more and more confused and is at the same time being influenced by Lord Henry in a way that makes him more evil. He goes to prostitutes and takes drugs.

The book doesn’t really have a main message, but there are lots of discussions about morality and the existence of good and evil. There are three different characters that often interact in these discussions: Lord Henry, Basil and Dorian. Lord Henry is a very cynical man and has somewhat peculiar ideas about life. His ideas can often be thought of as immoral. An example from page 72: “My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.” Basil is more of a normal person and very earthy in his way. Dorian doesn’t often have ideas of his own, but is very easily influenced and is always being influenced by Lord Henry. Here Wilde shows how dangerous persuasive men can be as Lord Henry in fact destroys Dorian’s life with his values.

These discussions are quite interesting to read about as they give another perspective to life. However, the book becomes wearisome at some point as you feel that Wilde is trying to write something of interest that doesn’t really pertain to the main story. As the main story is very fascinating and exciting, it is a bit disturbing to be interrupted by all these different views of life.

The book describes the period, the Victorian Age, in a great way, at least how it was from the upper classes point of view. It always stays in the upper class area, as all the main characters are wealthy. Wilde describes the surroundings in a way that it is never boring, even though you get a good picture of how it was to live in this time.

In general the book is quite interesting. It ...

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Inactive member [2001-01-22]   The Picture of Dorian Grey
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