Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Courtesy of my Goodreads account! Look out for my spoiler-packed book discussion that should be coming up very soon! Also, feel free to add me on Goodreads; I would love to see what you’re reading!

Fascinating! Honestly, I’d never heard of this book before I came upon it in the bookstore, and it was love at first sight. I’ve never thought I could read a classic –especially an intricate one as such– in five days, but I don’t think I’ve had much choice in the matter. 

Although the book has a wonderful plot, I felt that it revolved more about the characters themselves and their psychology than the plot. The plot only emerges in the beginning and end of the book, but otherwise, the story conducts a psychological study about its characters, allowing us to truly understand the way they view life. 

Oscar Wilde has done a marvellous job at showing the trivialities of the age while making the story incredibly profound. It’s his tragic take on satrising the English society of the time, and I think he made every bit of it interesting. It’s wonderful to be able to compare how he’s done this here and how he’s done it in ‘the Importance of Being Earnest’. 

The characters are brilliantly constructed and, by the end of the book, you’ll know them well enough to be able to make conjectures regarding how you believe they’ll react to the events. To me, there was this great symbolism in the story. There’s Lord Henry (Harry) who to me, symbolises ‘the devil’, the inner voice that encourages us to try out evil; Basil Hallward who is ‘the angel’ that values beauty and tries to make people cling to the purity of their hearts. He understands how corruption could alter physical beauty and so, he discourages it and tries to separate Dorian and Harry but fails. And then there’s poor Dorian whose vanity leads to his downfall, and whose curiosity for sin makes him a closer friend to Harry than to Basil, reducing his chances at ever abandoning his new lifestyle. 

It was really quite an entertaining journey, and the way Oscar Wilde worked with words made it all the more enjoyable. He has this ability to describe feelings -especially fear and regret- in a way that delivers them sincerely to the reader. Throughout the story, I felt that his descriptions were really vivid and awe-inspiring. His description of the portrait brought out its beauty in the beginning in a way that made me admire it, as though I could see it in my head. He did the same with describing how deteriorated and easily instilled fear in me. 

And the end was rather perfect. 

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

  1. jeff japp says:

    Great post. It’s been a while since I read the book, but I remember the impression that decay was something internal, and that the most insidious of decay and degradation is what happens below the surface and not on the outside. I guess if this is true, then true beauty also exists below the surface. 🙂

    • I’ve read several classics since Dorian Gray but it still tops all the other classics I’ve read. I think you’re absolutely right and this particular message is one of the reasons that gave this story, despite its simple premise, such an enjoyable depth.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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