The Picture of Dorian Gray is the classic novel by Oscar Wilde about the
young man Dorian Gray who is young and beautiful and is painted by a friend of
his, Basil Hallward. When he sees the finished product he says he wished he
could be young and beautiful forever. It turns out the devil is listening in on
you at all times and is like, yeah, sure. So while the painting ages and is
affected by the shitty things that Dorian does, he stays young and beautiful
forever. Which is obviously the dream. He is originally this young and innocent
man, and then he meets a young man when he is painted he meets lord Henry
“Harry” Wotton. Harry is a young lord who likes to spend his time drinking,
smoking, gambling, whoring, and corrupting 17-year-olds (Dorian).
I have owned this book for like six years and never read it until now.
So it’s been a long time coming. Also, it’s such a well-known story that I knew
the whole thing. It was still incredible, because you know… Oscar Wilde. I
really liked it. Also, I find it annoying that Harry is a nickname for Henry, because the names are the same length, like what the fuck. I just needed to get that off my chest.
Something I really like about classical paranormal or science fiction
novels is that there is very little explanation of the sci-fi/fantasy event.
Like in Frankenstein the monster just suddenly lives, it’s not really
explained. And in Dorian Gray he just says he’d like to be young forever, and
he is. There’s no real explanation of how it happens, which I find fascinating.
Because if this was a modern novel I wouldn’t put up with that little
explanation or world building, but for some reason I just accept it in the
classics. I’m just like, yeah, that’s how it works.
I love Dorian, I mean he’s an awful human being, he’s narcissistic, he’s
full of this annoying self-pity, and he keeps pushing all responsibility away
from himself. When he kills his friend he gets annoyed with his dead friend for
making him kill him, and essentially making a mess in his attic, instead of
feeling any remorse for murdering his friend. I realize that if you’ve sold
your soul it’s unlikely that you would ever feel remorse for anyone, but it
just annoyed me.
Something that surprised me for some reason was that Dorian spends a lot
of time looking at his portrait. Only because in every adaptation I’ve seen
he’s terrified for his portrait and he can’t look at it, so he just hides it
away and if he ever sees it he will die. In the book he spends a lot of time
taking in what has happened, how it’s changed.
I really like unlikeable characters, so while I find Dorian despicable I
like reading about him. I like getting angry at how narcissistic and
infuriating he is, and how good he is at just denouncing all responsibility. He
blames Harry and Basil for everything he does. When he basically makes his
fiancé kill herself he blames her for liking him. He’s so despicable. The other
despicable person would be Harry, who basically makes Dorian into the creep he
is. Not completely, I feel like Dorian has the capacity for cruelty, and he is
definitely a narcissist all on his own, but Harry definitely knows which
buttons to push, what to do to make Dorian live out his worst tendencies.
I found it fascinating that people didn’t seem to find it upsetting or
confusing that Dorian didn’t age beyond 17. He was in his late thirties at the
end, but people didn’t seem to find it too surprising. He might just have told
them that he sold his soul and they were just like: “Rad, you look awesome,
let’s get drunk.” Probably not that, but maybe they sort of vaguely knew, and
thought that was just how it was and didn’t question it. There is a lot of
Dorian being infamous for upsetting young ladies and infuriating the young men
who love those women, but that’s about it.
I really liked it. It was beautiful and weird, and it was nice to have
finally read it, because you know, I’ve owned it forever. It was a lot of fun,
and it was really sad. Because Dorian is so sad and so lonely. And he doesn’t
seem aware of how sad and lonely his life is, which I guess is consistent with
narcissism. It was great. I loved it.