Franky's Reviews > The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
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Jun 06, 2012

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Read from June 06 to 15, 2012

Normally, I would love a Gothic novel, even if it flaunts conventions and is highlighted by long-winded descriptions of proper gentility. However, The Picture of Dorian Gray gets bogged down with trifles too often, which is distracting. There is an air of stuffiness and superficiality that becomes a little tiresome.

Also, there are few redeeming characters in the novel, as the principal ones are nauseating. Take Lord Henry, for instance. His long-winded philosophies and monologues dominate a good deal of the book; rather than adding much to the story, they become heavy-handed, like a point is being shoved in our face too often. And, then there is Dorian. So overdramatic and high-maintenance. Everything revolves around him and his precious little world. I get that he is supposed to be vain and materialistic, but there’s little sympathy for him at all, especially when you realize he’s more about forgetting his sins than actually repenting them. I realize that Wilde is philosophizing through his characters and the plot, but the means with which he goes about this is tedious.

Still, there are redeeming aspects to the novel. Wilde does give us a moral to take away from the reading experience, as the Faustian angle of selling one’s soul for beauty becomes apparent in Dorian’s life. As Dorian ultimately chooses vanity over spirit and conscience, he sets the wheels of fate in motion. With devil in disguise Lord Henry egging him on, he gradually sees the portrait embody his tarnished soul: vanity, pleasures, sins. Wilde does give the book a very Gothic vibe. Dorian’s portrait almost seems alive with grotesqueness, something horrible and monstrous hiding behind that sneer.

While I appreciate the Gothic aspects and the moral he tries to get across, I didn’t like his novel as much as others.
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