“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
“Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.”
Set in London during the Victorian Era this is a story of an unbelievably handsome young man, Dorian. Basil a talented painter, captures Dorian’s beauty in a portrait but feels a little disappointed, thinking it reveals too much of his feelings for his subject. He discusses the same with Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of Basil who is a charming talker, a famous wit, and a brilliant intellect. However, possessed of wrong, fascinating, and poisonous theories. He disagrees with Basil and claims that the Portrait of Dorian is a masterpiece. Meantime, Dorian enters and curses his portrait, which he believes will one day remind him of the beauty he will have lost. He says, “If it were I who was to be always young and the picture was to grow old. For that, I would give everything. I would give my soul for that!”.
Basil knew the nature of Henry very well and was not sure about Dorian meeting Wotton. He thinks Dorian will have a bad influence in the company of Lord Henry. As the story progresses Lord Henry’s influence over Dorian grows stronger. At this point, enters Dorian’s love interest Sibyl Vane, a beautiful actress who performs in a theatre. One day when she decides to quit acting to live with Dorian and wants to only focus on their relation, Dorian rudely breaks the relationship. After doing so, he returns home to notice that his face in Basil’s portrait of him has changed: notices a cruel expression on the face of his portrait. He realizes his mistake and decides to seek Sibyl’s forgiveness. However, the next morning he gets to know from Henry that Sibyl committed suicide the previous night. Lord Henry in-spite of giving him the right advice convinces Dorian not to feel bad about it and transforms the death of Sibyl into artistic success.
Later on, Henry gifts Dorian a book which he finds fascinating. Under the book’s influence, Dorian spends his next 18 years and simultaneously sinks deeper into the world of sin and corruption.
Seriously, I don’t know how I felt about it. Great, sort of complicated with an undergoing philosophical theme, this story explains the different shades of a human. No matter how far we run from the sins which we perform in our lives, ultimately, all will be paid off here only, Karma does hit back. This one is considered a controversial read due to the content it delivers; the immorality. Regarding this book, Oscar Wilde said that he wrote the three main characters as reflections of himself. Wilde said, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks me: Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”
Every book always has something to say, to deliver, it is up to the readers, at the end what message they take away. One can interpret it differently. In my opinion, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a fabulous piece of work in the field of literature and has been presented most artistically. A timeless classic.
Q: Have you read this book?