Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

” There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”

Last night, I finished with ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, and I must say that the quality

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of this novel is nothing short but a masterful work of art.  I closed the book and start contemplating for a few hours as it was mind-boggling to sit back and penned down my thoughts.

Imagine, if you realize that every sin you commit, will leave the ugly scar on your visage, what would you do at that moment?

It begins with a simple realization, and perhaps an obvious one. But, for Dorian, it is completely life-changing. He realizes that beauty is finite. It won’t last forever. It’s like a flower, temporary and splendid. So if you’re a young man whose appearance is your singular quality, then this is some damn scary news. It is scary to even think that people are with you because you are attractive, and they are near to you only for your looks.

The novel is a reflection of life and societal ugliness. The level of cynicism and societal disregard that Wilde’s characters display towards humanity is simply staggering. It is a study of how the sins we commit cannot be hidden, even if we lie to ourselves about that.

There are three main characters: Basil Hallward, Lord Henry Wotton, and Dorian Gray. Basil Hallward is an artist who after painting a picture of Dorian Gray becomes obsessed with him because of his beauty. Dorian then meets a friend of Basil, Lord Henry, and becomes enthralled with Lord Henry’s world view. Dorian Gray, once he becomes aware his portrait will bear the scars of his corruption – thus leaving his actual appearance unstained – feels free to ignore the pious morality.

Mr. Wilde does not elaborate on what vile acts Dorian committed. One is left to their own expansive imaginations to surmise the bulk of what he had done.

With this novel, Oscar Wilde has produced one of the literature’s greatest study of shallowness, vanity, casual cruelty and selfishness.

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There is an underlying side to Wilde’s character Dorian Gray which probably leads to his homosexuality.  This novel was published in 1891, which was the time when Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and started a clandestine affair. Wilde was always persecuted by others and himself for his homosexuality.  Rarely any work of fiction seems to mirror the life of an author.

Despite what this novel implies, one thing is for sure,  youth is an adventurous phase where one’s actions yield to its whims; while maturity enables a person to be introspective of their past deeds.

I would recommend this novel to all those readers who want to read a beautiful fiction with a few moral lessons, here and there, between the lines.

I rate this piece of art 5/5

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