100. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Before I begin with the review, I want to mention that this is my 100th post on my blog, which began after dreaming of doing it for 5 years. I had always been attracted to the idea of blogging online, and after reading so many year after year, I mustered up the courage (and money) to begin.

After a ton of trial and errors, I am still nowhere near where I want to be with this space, but I want to thank you all for coming back day after day to read what I have to say. Thank you for your support and kind words, they go a long way in keeping this microscopic existence alive on the internet 🙂

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a novel that’ll captivate your mind and have you visiting the mirror less and less.

I’ve always wanted to read this Classic and seeing how short it is, I assumed I’ll sail right through it, but you don’t get away with it so easily or quickly.

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

The vain, shallow, sadistic and corrupt characters will have your opinion split in two. You’ll either be yearning or loathing them for their actions. But they’ll also make you question your youth, ideals, and values.

There is something seductive about Wilde’s writing that makes the reader feel stranded while questioning right and wrong!

Summary:

The story begins with Basil Hallward – a famous local painter – talking about the muse of his latest piece with his friend, Lord Henry Wotton. He goes on to explain how his muse aka Dorian Gray has transformed his art and how he may never make something as magnificent again.

“It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

Remarking on Dorian’s innocence, beauty, and naiveté, he goes on to say how he feels more invested in him emotionally and feels nothing should taint or varnish those attributes about him.

“Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”

Hearing this Henry asks to meet him, which makes Basil to hold back knowing the kind of opinions and thoughts he hold. But like chance could have it, Dorian ends up coming to his house and meets the two.

“There was so much in you that charmed me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted.”

Upon meeting Dorian in real life and viewing his portrait, Henry makes a bold claim how his youth will remain immortalized while he will grow old and wither, as there is nothing in life without beauty.

A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

This takes the naive Dorian aback and in fit of rage and emotions, he wishes that this portrait should grow old. With this proclamation, Dorian becomes more and more influenced by Henry’s opinions and takes a path of living life with excess and sin.

“What of Art?
-It is a malady.
–Love?
-An Illusion.
–Religion?
-The fashionable substitute for Belief.
–You are a sceptic.

Review:

Like I said in the beginning this book explores the way of sin, excess indulgences, no care for consequences and vain opinions quite alot.

I guess one could compare Basil and Henry to Angels and Satan, respectively. And Dorian becomes stuck in between them and ends up leaning more towards the dark side.

“It is the stupid and the ugly who have the best of it in this world”

In Dorian, the author explores the fear half the world is suffering from; the fear of growing old and losing the charm of youth they have now. But old age is inevitable for a lot people and like death you can’t escape it.

You have to face it and accept it.

“You must have a cigarette. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?”

But Dorian doesn’t! And like a time bomb ticking he spends his youth thinking the next second is his last and gives heed to the senseless and scandalous opinions Henry has.

I particularly, abhorred the character of Henry. Not because of his wayward opinions or lack of respect, but his opinions on women and their place in society.

The way he talks about women had my blood boiling, and I don’t know whether I should attribute this to the century the author wrote it in or to the fact it was all intentional.

But the fact remains, this entire book can be quoted and if you happen to follow some and consider it absolute truth, you may end up like Dorian; the youthful 40 year old who won’t grow old.

This book had my mind spinning in all the wrong and right ways.

And I truly believe the age at which you read this can influence your actions for the rest of your life, so whether you’re a teen, in your twenties or above, it’ll affect you differently.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 4.5/5.0
  1. Favorite quote: “When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.”
  2. Reader level: it’s moderately hard.
  3. Should you read: I think you should.
  4. Would I read it again: In a few years time.

Till next time,

-Sarah

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