I am currently working nights in a job that allows us to have earphones in. Because of this I have raided Librovox and am racing my way through classic novels that I otherwise probably would never have got around to. Last night the novel I was listening to was Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
I was drawn into the story instantly through a love for the character of Basil Hallward and his friendship with Lord Henry. We see them discussing a painting Basil has done. From there until the last word of the book Basil remained my favourite character, being the one with the moralistic viewpoint, the one who wants to help make things better all the way through the novel. Basil remains a beautiful character, not in the visual way that Dorian is but rather in a deeper, more meaningful way.
Dorian Gray is introduced as being a beautiful young man, with golden hair and blue eyes and a face that one can’t help but trust (so one should ignore the cover picture above). When we meet him outside of the painting we get to know him as an innocent man who has little idea about the world yet, but throughout the novel we see that corrupted and destroyed.
Lord Henry on the other hand is introduced instantly as a bad influence. He is conscious of it, Basil is conscious of it and Dorian is conscious of it but unfortunately too addicted to the danger in it to avoid it.
I think what really drew me into the novel was the fact that there was a supernatural element to it, a gothic, unexplained phenomenon with the picture itself, however it only really exists as a metaphor. The novel itself is about humanity and human nature at its crux. The idea of looks vs morality.
The ending for me was predictable but only as it was nearing the end. Only after speaking to Henry and having the idea to destroy the painting, did I realise what that would mean. And it still hit me, like a ton of bricks. Dorian was indeed a tragic character and I no doubt have a lot more to say about him, but alas I have to go to work now. Stay tuned for more posts, discussing who was to blame for his downfall and the characters of Basil and Henry.