Book 193: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Book 193 of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die is being discussed today by Guest Blogger Sarah E. Wright. Sarah is a Fine Arts Student at Jefferson Community and Technical College.

I have read about eight books on the 1001 list and my favorite by far and all time has to be The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The story is so insightful, and to me, the words flow like a painting. Oscar Wilde is most definitely a very creative and insightful man with the most amazing views on life, art, and literature. I have read this book many times and it never gets old.

The characters in the book are …

  • Dorian Gray
  • Lord Henry Wotton
  • Basil Hallward
  • Sibyl Vane
  • James Vane
  • Mrs. Vane
  • Alan Cambell
  • Lady Agatha
  • Lord Fermor
  • Duchess of Monmouth
  • Victoria Wotton
  • Victor
  • Mrs. Leaf

The three most important characters though are Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward, and Lord Henry Wotton.

The story is about an attractive young man named Dorian Gray, who Basil Hallward becomes infatuated with while painting his portrait. Basil saw Dorian as a beautiful innocent young man and put so much effort into making his portrait as beautiful as he truly was. The story revolves around Dorian Gray and his obsession with outward beauty/personal appearance instead of the things that truly matter. We first see Dorian as a innocent boy until Lord Henry gets a hold of him and turns his views completely around, and then toward the end of the book we see Dorian for what he has become and the person he truly is—not the beauty but the person beneath it. The portrait Basil painted of Dorian was so beautiful that Dorian makes a wish to stay just as he is now, beautiful forever, and have the portrait age in his place. The portrait would show the truth of a thousand sins and Dorian would forever be beautiful, but he would have to live with this and see the portrait change in front of his eyes. This would be the Death of him.

I do not want to give much more than that away about The Picture of Dorian Gray because it is such an amazing book that you have to read on your own and if you decide to than I do not want to ruin it for you. If you do decide to read The Picture of Dorian Gray you will find what I listed above as well as drama, a reflection on society, beauty, and opinion. 

To me The Picture of Dorian Gray describes art so beautifully and shows the world for what it truly is a corrupt place; yet life imitates art. The story is so well written and beautiful. It also sends such a great message that beauty can be ugly if you let it consume you, and obsession is never a good thing.

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim” (2). Oscar Wilde did a great job of this with The Picture of Dorian Gray; Wilde hid parts of himself beneath this text in the three main characters Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward, and Lord Henry Wotton. Wilde wrote, “I am so glad you like that strange colored book of mine: it contains much of me in it. Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks of me: Dorian what I would like to be- in other ages perhaps.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a book I feel that everyone should read at some point in your life. I have never heard anyone say a single bad thing about this book. To me it is a masterpiece, and Oscar Wilde is an amazing author. The book is so beautifully and well written I think that everyone who reads it will love it. “Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.”(9)  I wasn’t shocked at all to find this book on the 1001 list, but seeing that it was on the list made me very happy; it’s a great book. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a great classic and can be found at any bookstore. I have two copies of the book, and I would recommend purchasing the Penguin Classics copy with an Edited introduction and notes by Robert Mighall; it’s a very nice hard cover book with a beautifully decorated cover great for a book collection and it has the best notes on the book and even includes a time line of events for the time period which is very nice. This copy can be found a Borders bookstore.


1 Comment

Filed under 1001 Books, Guest Bloggers

One response to “Book 193: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  1. Thanks, Sarah, for your great recommendation of this classic novel. I agree that everyone should read it!

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