The Picture of Dorian Gray Study Guide

The Picture of Dorian Gray Study Guide

Original title:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
June 1st 2004 by Random House: Modern Library (first published 1890)
ISBN 0375751513 (ISBN13: 9780375751516)

Oscar Wilde is a well-known Irish writer who published only one novel during his life. That novel was “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. During his life Wilde was very famous for his plays, but the first publisher of his novel initially cut the text by 500 words due to his skepticism of its success. After a great deal of criticism the author revised the novel and added seven new parts, including comprehensive introduction.

The story begins at home of Lady Brandon, where a well-respected painter Basil Hallward meets the protagonist for the first time. Dorian Gray is a vivid example of the privileged youth of that time. He is handsome, rich, young and careless. Emotional and bright Dorian conquers Hallward’s artistic heart and he starts to paint his portrait.

The artist wasn’t satisfied with his work because, in his own opinion, it was too loud about the artist’s feelings towards his model. At the same time Dorian falls under influence of the fierce Hedonism follower, Lord Henry Wotton. The young man starts pursuing the pleasures of life and stops caring about the feelings of those around him. He puts the hunt for new experiences and sensations before the morals and standards of the society he lives in.

The satire of the novel shows how everything in life can be treated differently depending on what prism you are looking through. Even a suicide can be an artistic triumph is you interpret it this way. Even the most tender of souls can ossify to the point where its portrait has to endure the consequences.

Can art stay away from the politics and philosophy of life? Wilde strongly believed that its main purpose is to remain beautiful and esthetic. The novel is a real manifest of art and artists, being considered the hymn of aestheticism and Gothic fiction.

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