So the image in my mind was of a very large and ornately gilded mirror reflecting the true image of a man from the inside out. On that summation I suppose, it captures the essence of Wilde’s famous tale, yet the book truly reflects man’s inner demons and battles with conscience and self-serving actions.
The book’s namesake, Dorian Gray, is an extremely handsome and impressionable young man who is easily influenced by those around him. Unfortunately, he follows the road to perdition and only he can see what that lifestyle does to his soul as revealed in his portrait.
Lord Henry Wotton is at first, a seemingly self-deprecating and sincere man, however, as he gets enjoyment out of influencing young Darian into plunging into a hedonistic lifestyle, his intentions come into question. This is a man to steer clear of.
The painter, Basil Hallward, represents good vs. Lord Wotton’s evil. He is enamored of Dorian’s good looks and is somewhat embarrassed that his portrait may reveal his true feelings for the young man so he gives him the painting and tells him to do with it as he likes. He realizes Wotton is a bad influence for Dorian and tries to intercede with dire results. An artist whose best work yields destruction for one man’s soul.
It is a sad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that Genius lasts longer than Beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place.
Each class would have preached the importance of those virtues, for whose exercise there was no necessity in their own lives. The rich would have spoken on the value of thrift, and the idle grown eloquent over the dignity of labour.
Rather than ask about his imprisonment, I’d steer the conversation toward his plays. Perhaps he’d share some ideas on their development and why he only penned one novel, the infamous Picture of Dorian Gray. I’m sure we’d have a rather lively conversation.
My rating for The Picture of Dorian Gray is a 7 out of 10.
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