When The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in 1891, it evoked a tremendous amount of hostile criticism, in most part due to its immoral content. Oscar Wilde was identified with the "art for art's sake" movement of the 19th century which did not subordinate art to ethical instruction. However, this novel is indeed a morality tale about the hazards of egotistical self-indulgence."If it were I," exclaims Dorian, "who were always to be young and that picture that was to grow old . . . I would give my soul for that."With that spoken, the tale of this young hero of amazing beauty, Dorian Gray, begins. His pact with evil allows his portrait to take on his many sins and degradations while his physical appearance remains youthful. Over the years as he becomes cruel and vicious, even murderous, Dorian's young and perfect body is no longer enough to salvage his deteriorating mind and morality. Will justice and good prevail?More
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One of my faves!!!
- Cindy Hill
Creepy Gothic Story
The fact that the writer directly engaged the moral issue, which can be summed up as, "Is it better to be beautiful than good?" Oddly he answers his own question in the conventional way, which is not what I was prepared for. It seems Gray gets his just punishment at the end. But along the way there is the idea that fate, accident, random occurrences also can determine one's outcomes. So this isn't a straightforward justification of the "wages of sin." I think Wilde was more subtle than that in his contemplation of art and aesthetic appreciation and their effects on human life.
There isn't a single likeable character in the story. Dorian is immorality incarnate, Basil allows his appreciation of aesthetics to get in the way of his judgment, Sir Henry is a loathsome upper class idiot, and Sybil is a fool. But Dorian's development from a beautiful young innocent to a decadent monster is fascinating.
The narration was very good and Page did all the characters well.
No, but I learned more about the 19th century foppish British aristocracy--possibily Wilde's own circle--that I might have wanted.