The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

Basil Hallward has found his perfect muse in Dorian Gray. Dorian is beautiful and young and has an optimistic outlook on life, that is until Basil makes a remark on how fragile beauty and youth are and his friend, Lord Henry Wotton, exposes him to a world of pleasure. Basil completes his portrait of Dorian and he completely rejects it, stating whilst he grows old and his beauty fades, his portrait would remain forever youthful. Or so he thought.


As part of my 2020 resolution to read more classics I wanted to start with something short and easy to ease into. This became available on my audiobook app and thought I'd get through it on my commute to work. Whilst I knew the story of Dorian Gray I had no idea how deep and dark the novel actually goes into the psyche and our inability to resist temptation. Dorian was tempted into having ageless beauty when he realised his portrait was ageing instead of him, and the detrimental effects of his actions were taking their toll on it as well. The metaphor of the whole story, accepting your consequences and developing from them, was strong at the ending but the actual message wasn't clear through the novel and it mainly came across as story of indulgence.


Dorian was a predictable character, he clearly wasn't happy with the way Basil restrained him and once his actions started turning a little sinister the murder of Basil was inevitable. He was the 'good' character that could have steered Dorian onto a righteous path but with Dorian being a whiny child it was never going to work. Being a titular character is always a lot to put on a single character, they have to stand up to being the sole focus of a novel - Dorian Gray was not a strong enough character for that role. He was insufferable to read/listen about, I couldn't get along with him at all when even Lord Henry began to grow on me.


Eventually the development of Dorian's character was satisfactory when he realised he couldn't keep living with his youth and beauty when it was effecting his soul so drastically. The development came too late in the story for me, although I was happy that it brought a neat line underneath the events of the story too much had happened for me to think it was a fair ending for Dorian.




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