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Why You Should Read “The Picture Of Dorian Gray” By Oscar Wilde

Alessia Tanasă, IX E

‘‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’’ by Oscar Wilde is a classic novel that has been widely acclaimed for its exploration of themes such as hedonism and the nature of morality. It is one of Wilde’s most important works. The novel’s exploration of decadence and the consequences of a life of pleasure has made it a significant work in English literature. Nonetheless, the novel digs into the moral and ethical dilemmas faced by its characters, particularly Dorian Gray himself. It raises questions about the nature of good and evil, the pursuit of pleasure, and the consequences of one’s actions.Despite being written in the late 19th century, the themes and ideas in “The Picture of Dorian Gray” remain relevant to this day. The novel’s examination of the pursuit of pleasure, the nature of beauty, and the consequences of unchecked desire continues to resonate with contemporary readers. Nevertheless, Oscar Wilde is known for his clever wit and distinctive writing style, and the novel showcases these qualities. The book is filled with memorable quotes and sharp observations that are iconic in English literature.

If I still haven’t persuaded you to read this book, perhaps the introspective analysis of the main characters will catch your attention and get you engaged in reading it.

 

Dorian Gray

 

Dorian is amoral from the beginning, he has no set beliefs or opinions, we only know what Basil tells us about him at the beginning and then we see him more through Lord Henry than through Dorian himself. Dorian hides behind his beauty and uses it as a shield when his deeds are questioned. Everyone ignores the fact that Dorian does horrible things because he is just so beautiful and charming. The book often describes youth and beauty as things that others can't get over no matter how hard they try, just like Basil. There is a quote that illustrates this statement "Even those who had heard the worst things against him could not believe anything to dishonor him when they saw him."

He never sold his soul. When he wanted youth and beauty he made a wish, he didn't actively conspire with someone. Only twice did he take matters into his own hands: when he killed Basil and when he killed himself. Thus all things happened to him from deep within.

He is a very reactionary character. After he talks to Sibyl, at the end of her terrible acting performances and goes home to relish the sight of his portrait, he notices in bewilderment that it  changed and, as a reaction, to restore his original image in order to look good again, he decides to marry Sybil Vane.

Allan kills himself because he helped dispose of Basil's body.


James Vane is shot in pursuit of Dorian because he wants to avenge the death of his sister who committed suicide. All these actions are determined by Dorian. Actions that he did not do, but for which he is responsible.


Dorian's ending is perfect for him. He wants to get rid of this painting that he believes has caused him so much harm, but the painting is a manifestation of Dorian's soul.

     Dorian is the architect of his own destruction.


I find it interesting that Oscar Wilde made the painting revert to the way it was when Basil painted it and subsequently, in the end, Dorian took over all the changes, meaning that youth and beauty are fleeting and finite, but the scars that we have on our soul will always follow us, even after death.

 

Henry Wotton

 

Lord Henry is an amoral character. He has no good or bad morals. He serves as the devil on Dorian's shoulder. His interest in Dorian stems from the fact that he is Basil's current muse. Lord Henry does not want to corrupt Dorian specifically, but the fact that it is important to Basil leads him to tempt him.

Lord Henry is one of those characters who says whatever comes to mind. We don't know if they mean what they say or not.


People like Lord Henry, who enjoy watching chaos thrive, delight in corrupting people and take pleasure in seeing others debauchery, something that also happens to Dorian in the latter part of the book.


Lord Henry talks to Dorian while Basil paints his portrait. He notices there is something different about Dorian, as if there is a light in his eyes. Lord Henry is obsessed with youth and beauty and says that beauty is fleeting, and his words reach Dorian. He claims that youth goes hand in hand with beauty.

Lord Henry is indifferent to death and prefers to sweep the inappropriate aspects of life under the carpet.


Lord Henry is a man of words and not of deeds, and Dorian is his puppet.


Basil Hallward


Basil Hallward is the angelic presence on Dorian's other shoulder. Basil is of good morals but is obsessed with Dorian, this is evident from his statement:


"I always need you, I was dominated by you, soul, brain and strength, I adored you, and I became jealous of everyone you spoke to. I wanted to have you all to myself, I was only happy when I was with you.” The quote illustrates the obsession of being someone's muse.

 He only wants to see the best in Dorian. He does not want to see the harm that Dorian has done, the harm that ultimately led to his death.


I think we all have these types of people in our lives.

Some people are so magnetic and energizing and we feel so good when we're around them that we don't want to see or hear anything bad about that person, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


When Basil hears that Sybil has died, and learns that Dorian was at the opera the following night, he instantly denies the idea. He refuses to believe that Dorian is indifferent to Sybil's death and then promptly drops the subject.


He knows how beautiful Dorian is and that he is infinitely dear to him. He cannot conceive that a man as good and beautiful as Dorian would do something immoral.


 Only after the beauty's face has been stripped and he sees Dorian's soul in the portrait, he cries, wondering: "Christ, what have I worshipped?"


Now whether he is referring to the painting and that he was glad that the painting was beautiful or whether he is referring to Dorian himself and his soul or the fact that he is in love with Dorian without knowing his hideous soul, we do not know….

 

Oscar Wilde instils in us the idea that Basil made a serious miscalculation and judged Dorian solely on his appearance and nothing else.


Overall,’’ The Picture of Dorian Gray’’ offers a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of human nature, morality and the pursuit of pleasure, making it a worthwhile read for those interested in classic literature and philosophical themes with a story echo at all times.

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