How would one live, if one was to live without consequences and change?
‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is a story of a young fellow named Dorian Gray. Dorian is no ordinary boy. He is handsome and remarkably attractive. His very close friend Basil, a painter, paints a portrait of him. When Dorian sees the portrait, he is mesmerized by his beauty. Another man known as Lord Henry corrupts him and introduces a thought that his beauty will fade as he gets older. Corrupted by this thought, Dorian sells his soul! He replaces the soul in the painting such that he remains young and the portrait gets older. All his sins and wrongdoings do not affect his nature, and the painting of his soul bears the consequences. Since he has no realizations or guilt of his actions, there’s no limit to what Dorian can do. Covered in controversies and darkness, there more to this book than a mere sad incident. It’s dark and haunting.
The characters are well developed and introduced. You pity basil, and you hate Henry. Oscar Wilde has made Lord Henry so unlikable and nuanced. Anytime he spoke, I wanted to punch him. He has the most misogynistic and ‘corrupted’ thought process, and he doesn’t shy away from proudly sharing his opinions. Basil, the painter friend of Dorian, is a simple and honest man. He finds his meaning in life in the paintings he draws. He is also a supposed lover of Dorian. Oscar Wilde had originally introduced an affair of Dorian and Basil, but it was removed in the published version. They didn’t change much of the context, just merely censored some words. Hence, it’s very easy to spot this secret affair from the text available to us. The new replacement words are somewhat funny and weird to read because you can easily sense the spark between the two.
There are many layers to unpack in this book. There’s more to this book than just a story of a man who sells his soul to preserve his beauty. If you read about Oscar Wilde and his life, he has taken a lot of inspiration from his own life and the people he knew. It’s more likely the Wilde projected himself in Dorian Gray, which makes this book even more fascinating. It’s not just a dark philosophical novel, but in a way, Oscar Wilde did a self-projection of his darkest thoughts and his desires. It’s a must-read classic for all more reasons.
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.