Monday, March 4, 2013

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Well, life intervened and I have neglected my little blog. We moved from Utah to gorgeous Northern California last month and have experienced all the challenges that accompany a big move with four kids. Intense schools and loads of paperwork and homework, flu and poison oak, and quirks in our new older home. But it's soo pretty! Trees, hills, trees, and hills.

A new friend, Melissa, loaned me The Picture of Dorian Gray. I knew little about Oscar Wilde, but the brief bio describes him as wild. This novel is supposedly somewhat autobiographical.

The book is very philosophical and a fascinating study of man's evil nature. When we first meet him, Dorian Gray is an untouched young man with a pure heart and movie-star handsome face.

He is a friend to Basil Hallward, a good-hearted painter who looks upon Dorian as his muse. Basil has just completed Dorian's portrait and it's a gorgeous replication of this stunning young man. That same day at Basil's home, Dorian makes the acquaintance of the worldly Lord Henry Wotton, much to Basil's chagrin. Lord Henry is a smooth, cynical gentleman who is without morals and stands for nothing. Dorian is intrigued by his light-hearted persona and smooth, philosophical words, and increasingly falls under his influence.

For example, as Lord Henry admires Dorian's portrait he comments on the boy's beauty but reflects that it will be fleeting; we all age and lose our youth, eventually becoming grotesque in our looks. His words startle young Dorian, who for the first time has recognized his beauty in the portrait, and he panics. He cries out a fervent wish that the portrait would age instead. In this moment, he sells his soul for eternal youth.

Under Lord Henry's worldly guidance and his own vanity, Dorian's life changes its course. He becomes increasingly wicked but always rationalizes his deeds. He hurts others to satisfy his insatiable appetites and buries himself in material possessions.

I love the trio of the three main characters and what they represent: Dorian ("natural man" with a tendency to do evil), Basil Hallward (the "creator" of his portrait and the role of his conscience), and Lord Henry Wotton (the subtle, cynical devil who lures him into temptation). And yet ultimately, Dorian makes his own decisions and must account for them. What a chilling and fascinating book!


  1. Hey Megan,

    I found you on Family Share and really have enjoyed your articles, and am looking forward to reading your blog too! :)

    Talk to you soon!


  2. Thank you Tiffany! That's so nice of you!