Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Oscar Wilde. The genre of this novel can be classified as a comedy of manners or a gothic novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Another version with an additional six chapters was published in 1891. One of the major themes in the novel was the Supremacy of Beauty and Youth. A very attractive man has a portrait painted of himself, and after being warned of the mortality of his youth the man, Dorian, trades his soul to remain young while his portrait bears the markings of his age and evil deeds. Dorian becomes increasingly evil thoughout the novel, while constantly being encouraged by Lord Henry Wotton. Eventually Dorian can no longer bear the person he sees in his portrait so he tries to destroy the painting but ultimately he destroys himself.
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the characters are predominantly aristocratic males. The main character is Dorian Gray, a wealthy young man who is both a handsome and a very impressionable young man. Basil Hallward is an artist who was obsessed with Dorian, naming him his muse and source of inspiration. Lord Henry Wotton is a friend of Basil Hallward who makes young Dorian his protege, teaching him his philosophy of “new Hedonism.” Sibyl Vane was a young actress who caught the eye of Dorian during one of her performances, after being spurned by Dorian she is heartbroken and commits suicide. James Vane is the brother of Sibyl Vane. He did not approve of Dorian from the start, so he wanted to murder Dorian to avenge the death of his sister.
The setting of The Picture of Dorian Gray is London, England. The story takes place from the years 1890 to 1908.
In the years between 1890 and 1908, Dorian succumbs to the influence of Lord Henry Wotton. Because of this, Dorian disregards morality and follows Wotton’s “new Hedonistic” philosophy. Dorian became a very loathsome man on the inside while still remaining young and beautiful on the outside.
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, there were quite a few symbols. Three of these symbols were opium dens, James Vane, and the yellow book. The opium dens represent Dorian Gray’s state of mind. He uses the opium to try to forget his actions, just as he tries to rationalize these actions so he can ignore his consci…
…to find, Dorian, an old disfigured man lying dead on the floor with a knife in his heart.
In the beginning of the novel Dorian Gray was a bright and charming young man. By the end of the novel, because he was so easily influenced, he became a selfish and cruel person. Various conflicts in the novel cause Dorian to change. In every traumatic event Lord Henry was there leading him into the lifestyle of selfish pleasure. Dorian Gray was physically attractive but that did not matter because he was such a foul creature on the inside.
The Picture of Dorian Gray was very well written. Wilde used witty and colorful dialogue to grab the reader’s attention. This is an enjoyable novel that is still somewhat relevant in modern times. Dorian got away with his sins longer because he looked youthful and innocent on the outside so people did not want to believe he had a bad character. This proves that sometimes, appearances can over rule reality. This is an enjoyable novel that is still somewhat relevant in modern times.
1. Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Ed. Donald Lawler. New York: W. W. Norton, 1988.