Reading post #9

I finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde today.

It certainly gave me a lot to think about, and it was written very well. Even though the novel is not very realistic, it portrays a rather reliable picture of the times in which Wilde wrote this particular piece.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is about vainness, corruption and the compromises one might make for the pleasures one seeks. The main plot is that Dorian Gray, a young man, meets a very interesting gentleman who sets him off thinking about his own youth and beauty. The painter who introduces them, finishes the last piece he was working on. Dorian, who sat for the picture, exclaims that he wishes he would never get old. And that happens, naturally. While the picture gets older, he (in his appearance, at least) doesn’t age a day. And while he commits his life to the vile pursuit of pleasure above all else, the picture becomes uglier and older by the day. This scares Dorian, of course, and scares him not into destroying the picture or looking for help, but enables him to become even more corrupt. Dorian stoops so low as to visit places people of his standing rarely do, and eventually escalates into murder (whether it’s direct or indirect) and ends, of course, in a tragedy, when Dorian finds out he can no longer repent.

This piece of work is heavily tinged with ideas of Aestheticism – a belief that everything of worth must have beauty in it, rather than practical use. Wilde has a particular style as well, which is very lengthy and descriptive at some places, while sparser at others, and I found it a pleasure to read.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic novel and one that has had a great impact on culture as a whole (I was listening to a song that mentioned Dorian Gray just earlier) with its implied themes of homosexuality, although more with the overall themes of hedonism and the cost of everlasting beauty, as well the corruption of one’s youth.

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