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The Picture of Dorian Gray
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The Picture of Dorian Gray > The Picture of Dorian Gray - The Criticism *Potential Spoilers*

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message 1: by Michael, Mod Prometheus (new) - rated it 2 stars

Michael (knowledgelost) | 1255 comments Mod
This book has been met with a lot of controversy and criticism. In our day and age what are your thoughts on the themes in this book.


message 2: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim While it may have been rather risque at the time, with the talk of hedonism and bad things behind closed doors, in this day and age it is exceedingly tame and not controversial at all.


message 3: by Michael, Mod Prometheus (new) - rated it 2 stars

Michael (knowledgelost) | 1255 comments Mod
I think it's a little sad that at the time the Homosexual themes seemed to outshine the true idea of the book; which is more about life and morality.


message 4: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim I was told by someone in another group, Brenda wrote: "What DORIAN GRAY is really about is being in the closet -- about being gay in a culture where homosexuality meant a jail term. And indeed Wilde did go to jail for being gay, and died a broken man. In other words, it's a roman a cle (cannot make the accent marks, sorry)-- if you know what it is REALLY about it is fascinating. "

I didn't feel this book was about homosexuality at all. It was alluded to, and it certainly seemed most of the characters were at least bisexual, but I don't feel it was a major theme, or even a minor theme. Did anyone else feel it was an important part of the book? Or even there at all?


Regan | 35 comments Kim wrote: "I was told by someone in another group, Brenda wrote: "What DORIAN GRAY is really about is being in the closet -- about being gay in a culture where homosexuality meant a jail term. And indeed Wild..."

I totally disagree with the comments by Brenda as well. The book is about people who are immoral, vain and indifferent to the feelings and concerns of others. I don't correlate the behavior of Dorian or Wooten to that of people who have been forced to live their lives in the closet for fear of persecution (or even prosecution).


Franky Yeah, I know there is some homosexuality in the book, but I never even thought of this being a major theme at all. Like you guys are saying ,it is more Faustian, about selling your soul for materialism and gain. It is also about morality vs. immorality or inner beauty vs. outer beauty. Dorian fails because he doesn't see the true value of existence.


Andrea To me the sexuality of the main characters feels more like an undercurrent of the story. I think the true theme of the book is summed up by Wilde himself when he employs the quotation, "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?".


Charlotte I think that knowing about Wilde's sexuality does help explain a few things, like how Dorian was so entrancing to the other characters. However, in terms of plot, I don't think it is a major part. It is an important sub-theme though.


message 9: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 17 comments I think it's pretty important, since it's a large part of how Dorian loses his soul. I don't think it's fair to think that homosexuality is the WHOLE of Dorian's unspeakable (and undetailed) sin, but I certainly thought it was a big part of it. And that's what the audience of the day felt as well.

[Worth considering that just because Wilde was gay doesn't mean that he felt sure that being gay wasn't sinful. There was quite a conflict in Wilde's behaviour between the radical, morality-denying aesthetic flamboyant side and, on the other hand, his life-long fascination with catholicism.]


Regan | 35 comments Wastrel wrote: "I think it's pretty important, since it's a large part of how Dorian loses his soul. I don't think it's fair to think that homosexuality is the WHOLE of Dorian's unspeakable (and undetailed) sin, b..."

But he gives up his soul in the name of his own vanity. He's afraid the portrait will remind him of the beauty he has lost in his old age and says he'll give up his soul to retain his looks. Then the first major outrage that he engages in is treating Sybil Vane so badly.

While there's an implication that it may be a part of what was then considered hedonistic behavior, it's not really part of how he gives up his soul. Having two people fight over his portrait fuels his vanity which is what leads him to the Faustian bargain, and perhaps the suggestion that both these people are possible romantic interests fighting over him influences his decision. But there's no suggestion that I can see that it matters whether the romantic interests are heterosexual or homosexual.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I think homosexuality is a minor part of the plot, if at all. I see it more like Stevenson's Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde. It's about the beast within, what is civilised behaviour, what is not? What makes us man or beast? Is it just striving to meet the conventional mores of the time, or is it something more fundamental; how we treat the world and others around us, what we are willing to do in pursuit of our goals.

I truly liked this book, but I understand why it could bore or even irritate. There's a point writers can get to, where they are so far up themselves that the writing becomes stilted and affected. This book is borderline, but the story itself is great.( I will admit to finding James Joyce to be like that, utterly irritating, makes me feel like hurling the book.)


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