Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The gist? Be careful what you wish for.

Dorian Gray is young, rich, handsome and connected, keeping company with a couple of old boys from Oxford: Lord Henry (Harry) Wotton, whom the author hilariously portrays as a pompous blowhard, and Basil Hallward an artist who paints Dorian's portrait. During their last portrait sitting, after Harry goes on and on about Dorian's youth and beauty and how he'll only get old and ugly from here on out, Dorian suddenly 'wishes' he could stay this young forever. Harry encourages Dorian to stay youthful by living life to its fullest, which Dorian takes to mean living life without scruples and avoiding such inconveniences as responsibility and consequences. Drugs. Women. Murder. Whatever.  Fast forward twenty or so years and Dorian, now a hopeless scoundrel and cad, is still the physical picture of perfection. His portrait, however, has deteriorated into an ugly caricature that he can't bear to look at and won't let anyone else see. Finally, it dawns on him that his portrait might actually be reflecting what his soul has become. He quickly decides to do a 'good' deed to see if there is any positive reflection in the painting and when he sees that there is none, he stabs the painting in a fit of frustration and rage and then . . . . !  I won't give away the final scene.

Good book! I love Oscar Wilde's language, wit, and turns-of-phrase.

RIP challenge #6 - check!
I think the challenge only suggested a maximum of four books, but who's counting? I've got too many good and sinister titles on my shelf and there's still two weeks left in October, so.









12 comments:

Laura said...

I love The Picture of Dorian Gray, and it's absolutely the best gothic read- awesome choice!

toni d. said...

I only read this one a few months ago. I was quite surprised at how much violence was in it, considering when it was written. Well, classics like this wasn't in our school curriculum so... *sigh* I'm trying to get my hands on all the classics that I can. Good read though!

Beth said...

I think there are some modern-day Dorian Grays around – those who would go to extreme lengths in order to keep their youthful appearance. I find it sad.
(Having said that, looking in the mirror is not exactly a thrill these days...)

Tracy said...

It's certainly a story for our increasingly shallow times. Outward appearance versus inner reality - and of course, in the end, Dorian Gray is forgotten/disowned by former friends and aquaintances.

Story said...

Now I really want to read this book! Thanks for posting about it

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

Ah, I loved this one - what a creative idea. Be careful what you wish for indeed!

Trish said...

Laura - It is good and gothic, isn't it? So many dark elements.

toni - Yes, classics! I didn't get them in school either. I've been trying to make for that deficiency ever since.

Beth - Society puts too much value on youth and not enough value on wisdom and maturity.

Tracy - it is quite a sad story that way. I wonder if this is on any high school reading lists? I think it would be a good one for discussion among teens.

Story - It's a fairly quick read, too. Great for this time of year!

Sam - I just found it so funny how hard he wished for permanent youth. He was like a little kid at Christmas wishing for a bicycle.

trailsofthepen said...

I saw the movie but I'm not sure if they based it from this book. I'm still going to buy a copy when I find it. :D Good luck with the Challenges!
~Raine~

Trish said...

Raine - thanks! I watched the 1945 movie and it was only about half true to the book and not nearly as good.

Kailana said...

Someone was asking me about this book the other day and I really only know the basics. I will have to read it at some point!

Tracy said...

Trish - I agree it ought to be a good one for High School teen reading lists - but suspect that schools would think it was too homoerotic to suggest.

Trish said...

Sadly, that's probably true.