#Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

About the Book:

“The soul is a
Terrible reality. it can be bought
And sold and bartered away.”
Meet Dorian Gray, the beautiful young man with an impossibly charming face and spirit. as he sits for Basil Hallward—a deeply moral artist and a friend of the impish Lord Henry—who becomes obsessed with his beauty and wants to paint him, Dorian is enchanted by the perfection of his portrait.
But, influenced by the well-phrased epigrams of the hedonist Lord Henry on the transience of youth and beauty, Dorian becomes jealous of it and wishes that the portrait bear the scars of his passing youth and age, while he would remain young forever.
And Alas, his wish comes true!
Enticed into dissolution and degradation while his portrait is aging in the attic, Dorian engages in scandals and sinful pleasures. We see him go from good to evil. But is he any happier?
The only novel written by Oscar Wilde, the Picture of Dorian Gray is an arresting moral commentary and a classic example of Gothic fiction. with an unparalleled depiction of the Faustian bargain, this parable of aesthetic ideal remains a literary masterpiece almost 125 years after its publication.

About the Author:

Born in Dublin in 1854, Oscar Wilde was educated at home till the age of nine. He attended the Portora Royal School, Enniskillen from 1864 to 1871. in 1874, he graduated from Trinity College, Dublin.
Wilde’s first play, Vera: Or the Nihilists, did not meet much success. He refined his ideas about art, its purpose and supremacy and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity and beauty into his only novel, the Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Continuing his interest in theatre he wrote Salome, a play in one act, in 1891.
Wilde became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian London after producing four comedies—Lady Windermere’s Fan, a Woman of No Importance, an Ideal Husband and the Importance of Being Earnest. First performed in 1895 in collaboration with George Alexander at St. James’s Theater, London, the Importance of Being Earnest was considered Wilde’s masterpiece and continues to remain his most popular play. the Ballad of Reading Gaol, published in 1898, was his last work. Wilde died in 1900 at the age of 46, in Paris.

The Review:

“I wonder who it was who defined man as a rational animal. It was the most premature definition ever given. Man is many things, but he is not rational.”

Ahh! Finally, I sat to write about this masterpiece. With extreme perfection, beautiful writing, mocking quotes about humans & humanity, Wilde’s this creation is an absolute addiction. Though I really didn’t want it to get finished, I finished it with a shudder going through my mind & body.

There are three protagonists, Lord Henry, Dorian Gray and Basil Hallward. Basil, who is an artist, is obsessed with Dorian Gray’s enchanting beauty after he paints his picture. (We can consider this as a homosexual attraction of Basil towards Dorian; but it sounds vague while reading, may be, because of the era it was written in.) Then, Dorian meets Basil’s friend “Lord Henry” and is amazed by his hedonistic views on life & who thinks that life is worth seeking beauty & satisfaction of senses. Influenced by Lord Henry, Dorian desires to sell his soul for eternal beauty which ensures that picture will age & fade instead of Dorian himself. It’s the story of art, beauty, soul, senses, sin & their temptation.

After reading it, I really could sense why Wilde wrote this harsh statement: “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” Being homosexual himself, Wilde was abandoned, criticized & condemned. But, ironically, this book which was labelled “immoral” showed the world its own shame by being a bestseller & the most read book in modern times.

I think we are living as Dorian Gray now. We constantly want to hide our truth in this ever shining world. But what’s the use of that beauty which is not satisfying our soul although it is satisfying our senses? Sacrificing souls to soothe nerves may dominate one to commit a sin & hence makes the world sinful.

“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.”

Wilde showed humanity’s mocking reality through the above line. The world could have been better if we could laugh at ourselves little.

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