I read this book in 2010 and wrote a blog on it that I never posted. I referred to it in a recent post and then realized I'd never put it on my blog. So here it is--three years late!
I recently read the book The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It’s a book set in 19th century England about a handsome young man whose good looks and persona inspire others to desire to be like him. For this reason, he can get whatever he wants, and he centers his existence around himself and his own pleasures. But in an odd twist of fate, Dorian Gray’s life takes a unique twist after an artist’s portrait captures his soul. So while on the outside, things look great: He’s energetic, creative, and appears youthful even as he ages; on the inside Dorian Gray’s soul begins to shrivel. And somehow little by little the painting mysteriously changes, revealing his self-absorbed and self-centered ugliness.
Fearful of being discovered for what he really is, Dorian Gray hides the painting in a room in his home to which he alone carries the key. Over the years he regularly visits the room and watches in horror as the painting, revealing the real Dorian Gray, becomes despicable, hideous, even grotesque. His withered soul was hidden from all but Dorian Gray himself, and it tormented him. The possibility that he would be revealed for what he really was, terrified him.
The Picture of Dorian Gray examines human nature through a modernistic lense. Several of the characters, including Dorian Gray himself, appear to take an objective view of life. Their perspective and emotion is tempered by their even keeled scientific method. But the sheer emotionally vacuous analysis of life events that, in the end, should pierce their souls does not. In the end, Dorian Gray lives out the Hedonism that his friends all wish they could but don’t or can’t. Ironically, those whose lives intersect closely with Dorian Gray end up devastated or destroyed. But none are as twisted and destroyed as Dorian himself. Without even knowing, it he destroys himself.
The book is worthwhile reading and made me wonder what realities there are about myself that can’t even be conveyed or even called blind spots because they are so hidden--not just from me but from others as well! The moral seems to be: face what’s real, don’t hide it or it will destroy you. It did to Dorian Gray.
Oscar Wildes must have been an interesting man. What secrets was he keeping about himself that he never revealed, yet in the end, destroyed him?