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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray


Dear readers, welcome to my book review this week.

Book Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray        Author:  Oscar Wilde

I started this book last week and to be honest, I wasn't looking forward to reading it.  I knew a little about the background - a portrait that has an evil demon like figure inside and how Dorian Gray was a beautiful man that did bad things - like kill people, and this kept him young. The prospect of reading it was daunting as I felt it was going to be dull and boring. 

I hadn't really thought about how Dorian acquired the painting, it wasn't a thought that crossed my mind.  I must admit that the book wasn't dull, like I had thought.  The portrait being painted itself, watching Dorian change from an immature boy to a corrupted adult figure was interesting.  I never considered the fact of Dorian having friends, and servants either.

I think the overall message here is that vanity and greed can lead to corruption as those that grew older seemed happier than Dorian.  There is more to life than money and youth.  

So what did I enjoy?
I was hooked from the beginning of how just one innocent wish from a young beautiful boy turned into such corruption that ruined his life, and this was all down to his vanity.  I loved Dorian's relationship with Lord Henry Wotton as they become great friends, yet Harry doesn't ever really know him - nobody does.  I found the whole plot more interesting than I thought I would as it's the portrait that grows old and evil looking whilst Dorian maintains his youth.  The demonised picture seems to influence Dorian into killing his friend, Basil, the original painter of the portrait.  It also seems more than a coincidence that anyone who has it in for Dorian meets his end, like James (Sybil Vane's brother), Alan Campbell (a doctor, and his old friend who he fell out with but nobody knows why), and Adrian Singleton (who appears to have been corrupted in one way or another).  

So what did I dislike?  
I thought the part with Sibyll Vane was far fetched.  Dorian insults her once and she meets a dramatic end - yes he is cruel but I felt it was harsh to commit suicide so quickly, however she is a critical character as this is the significant act that feeds the portrait, and it starts to noticably change - just because of Dorian's wish for youth (also far fetched).  

The Irony
I quite liked the use of irony in the novel - the irony that Dorian gets bored with youth, the irony that the picture corrupts him further, that Dorian thinks his problem will be solved by destroying the painting which sees his own end. Irony plays a huge part in the novel but in some instances it's dramatised and seems extravagant.  

Character Analysis (not all characters)
Dorian was an interesting character who shows vanity, and immaturity at first.  He quite enjoys staying young during the middle of the book, but then he grows bored of it.  The killing of Basil Hallward changes him and he has regrets - yet he still thinks the portrait is the problem when in fact, it is him.  He always blames the other party and never truly matures and grows up.

Lord Henry, or Harry, is a bad influence initially on Dorian, however even though he can be cheeky and insulting, maybe even arrogant, he never does anything truly bad that would make him evil.  He ill-advises Dorian - he taunts him about growing old, compliments his youth, and gets him to ignore all existence of Sybil Vane and ignore that he drove her to death.  This is the beginning of Dorian's demise - he listens to Harry and reads a book he sends him and becomes obsessed with it as its concepts seem to corrupt him.  Harry is unaware of the influential role he plays in Dorian's transformation into an immoral figure.

Basil Hallward, he painted the picture and he, himself notices how the portrait has influence but thinks it's his imagination.  His love of Dorian makes him vulnerable as he never believes he can do anything bad.  This belief is the reason he is killed - he puts too much trust in him because of his beauty, and his love for the person he was when he first sat for the portrait and he can never let go of this.

Sibyl Vane - a dramatic young actress that meets a dramatic end as she acts badly on one occasion (after acting beautifully several times at first), which results in Dorian revealing he no longer loves her and that her bad acting ruined their relationship.  She is a significant figure because her death signifies the change in Dorian and the portrait.

James Vane, Alan Campbell, and Adrian Singleton are quite mysterious figures in the novel.  They add to the mood of the gothic theme of the novel and even though you don't find out everything about them, the mysteriousness of their characters add something to the novel - but now I am left wondering what happened to destroy Dorian and Adrian's, and Dorian and Alan's relationships?

Sometimes it's frustrating to end a story when you still have questions in my opinion.

Hope you've enjoyed reading this review - have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray, or maybe seen the film on TV? Comment below and let me know what you think, maybe I missed something, or maybe you have a different opinion or analysis in comparison to me - let me know!

Laters, Janet



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