The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray, finally. I read it pretty quickly, but I've owned it forever. So this is a review. 

The book
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.