Elizabeth's Reviews > The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
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Sep 11, 2011

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bookshelves: classics
Read in September, 2011

Well I wish I could say I loved this book but frankly...

(there might be a few little spoilers here but no big ones)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is the story of a rich man with very little to do with his time other than obsess over himself. An artist friend paints the portrait of Dorian Gray and Dorian wishes that instead of him aging, his portrait would instead. His wish comes true (be careful what you wish for). But rather than just age, his portrait shows everything. Every wrong, every sin, really every evil thought perpetrated by Dorian shows up on the face of this portrait and over time it becomes hideous. Dorian hides it, ashamed and scared for anyone to see it but he is afraid to destroy it. And he resorts to the worst of evils to keep it secret and is then haunted by his sins.

I liked the idea of the book, that the picture would take on the worst of a person and what that would do to that person as they watched the image degrade, but that was about it. I couldn't bring myself to like any of the main characters except perhaps the artist who painted Dorian's portrait. But he played really such a small (though important) part, it wasn't enough. Dorian Gray, and his friend Lord Henry, live a lifestyle of decadence and laziness that I couldn't at all relate to, and was mostly annoyed by, the entire time I read the book.

I suspect it was my own dislike of the characters that colored my overall impression of the book and perhaps I did not judge it fairly. Not having a character I can relate to can definitely affect my overall impressions of a book (or movie). There was a lot good about the book, a lot that Wilde did well hence why his only published novel has lasted and carried so far with themes that still resonate today. (I adored his descriptions of the painting as it changed, as it grew more disgusting and deformed.) The fact that I didn't fall in love with the book as a whole is purely a personal thing.
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