I have chosen to read this book because it is a classic of English literature and a friend of mine told me that it was interesting to read.
It’s a fantasy novel that mainly deals with the themes of morality, hedonism, self obsession and bad influences.
The action takes place in the late nineteenth century in London (England), between the wealthy West End and the decrepit East End.
Wilde tells the story of an extraordinarily handsome young man named Dorian Gray, who is the subject of a painting by the artist Basil Hallward. Basil is greatly impressed by Dorian’s beauty and he thinks his beauty will end up in the cause of a new Art style.
During the last painting session, Dorian meets Basil's friend, Lord Henry Wotton, who opens his eyes to the brief nature of his own beauty. He tells him that he should develop a new sense of hedonism because he will grow old, ugly and repulsive with the passing of time and yet this beautiful portrait will hold his youth beauty forever.
Terrified of aging, Dorian sells his soul in order to live a life of perpetual youth, and the portrait Basil has painted would become old instead of himself.
Henry's influence has a profound effect on the young man, who soon adopts his views as his own, abandoning ethical restrictions and seeing life in terms of pleasure and sensuality.
Dorian falls in love with a young actress of respectable talent, Sibyl Vane, who finally ends up killing herself as a result of Dorian’s behaviour. When he returns home, he discovers that the figure in his portrait now holds a lightly defiant facial expression. The picture will serve as his conscience, allowing him to live freely.
Afraid of the idea of having the secret of the painting discovered and, therefore, the true nature of his soul, Dorian hides the image in his attic.
Dorian finds a certain joy over the next years in committing sinful or pleasurable acts and watching the painting change; he loses none of his beauty or youth, but the painting grows old and ugly.
When Dorian is thirty-eight he meets Basil again, whom he hasn’t seen for a long time and finally shows him what has happened to his portrait. Basil is horrified and tries to make Dorian regret it, but Dorian kills him, and blackmails an old friend, Alan Campbell, to burn Basil’s body in the attic's fireplace. This action eventually compels Alan to commit suicide.
Dorian becomes increasingly anxious and then goes to an opium den to try to erase his bad feelings. Out on the street, he meets Sibyl's brother, James, who has sworn revenge on the man that drove his sister to suicide. Dorian tells him to look closely at his face; he could not have been more than twenty years old so he lets him go. Few days later during a hunting party, a man is accidentally shot and killed. Dorian finds out that this man was James. He decides that from this time on he will be good; and to do this, he must get rid of the constant anxiety and fear he has been long feeling.
In a fit of despair, he decides to destroy the picture with the knife used to murder Basil. Dorian's servants hear a scream, and when they come, they find a horrible old ugly man, only recognizable by the jewelry on his fingers, lying dead on the floor, the knife was plunged into his chest and the picture as it was, when it was painted.
From my point of view, two parts are very interesting: the first is when Dorian notices a change in the portrait for the first time, after Sybil Vane’s death
of. The second happens when Dorian attempts to
"kill" the portrait but instead he kills himself.
It was very interesting for me to read this book not only because of the story itself but also because of the way it invites you to read. The message lying within the novel is the weight of our own conscience. I have learned a lot of new words and expressions through my reading.
J. M. Suárez. Advanced level. Year 2