“If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that –for that I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” Chapter II
The Picture of Dorian Gray brings the concept of human morality and depravity to the table with alarming intrigue in a tale of a man who makes a bargain for his portrait to change with age while he stays young. The portrait not only ages in place of Dorian, but also changes as he commits sins and does wrongs. This story follows Dorian as he discovers this and then what he chooses to do afterward.
This book was such an interesting read and raises many questions. Through the character of Dorian, the reader sees what choices a person is given in life, and how temptation is always laid before humanity, but that it is truly the person’s choice what they choose to do in light of that temptation. Dorian faces temptations of various degrees and one of the choices laid before him is one that is the most common to man- in whose company to reside. The scenario in Dorian Gray is much more dramatic, the people he chooses to spend his time with influence him in negative ways making him what he becomes, but it still rings true on much smaller scales. Which then brings the reader to ask what they allow to influence them, whether it be positive or negative.
Another thing that was really great about this novel is that it didn’t dodge the consequences of a person’s actions. Dorian may have thought he was going to get away with everything, but his paranoia, his mental doubt, and eventual end revealed that his life wasn’t everything that it seemed it would be. He even got sick of hearing his own name at one point. There are consequences to every action, every decision, and while it may not be immediate, that doesn’t mean there isn’t one at all.
This novel is completely filled with modern and postmodern thoughts and beliefs. Almost everything that the character of Lord Henry says is completely unbiblical and even a-biblical.
The misdeeds that Dorian commits are all horrible, and his moral downward spiral cannot go unnoticed. This novel, written by Oscar Wilde, was meant to be a piece of fiction that contributed to the aesthetic movement and the social issues of the time. While the writing is beautiful, the issues presented are all put into the actions of Dorian Gray. Suicide, murder, greed, lust, envy, and lies are just a few of the sins that lie in this novel.
While this novel is filled with evils and sins, the way Wilde goes about handling them is fairly right. He doesn’t portray these things as good, except only to Dorian while he is in the midst of them. In the end, all of the horrible things he has done in his life are brought before him and he has a last final chance to repent, and what happens to him is equal to what he has done.
This novel is a classic and a fair representative of the Victorian to the Modern era in England. As such, it needs to be taken for all that it reveals about humanity from an unredeemed souls perspective. The novel does not give hope but indicates the need for it.