Interpretation The picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

The picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

  Dorian Gray:

Dorian Gray is really beautiful. There is something in his face that makes one
trust him at once. Dorian fascinates everyone with his beauty and youth.

  Lord Henry Wotton:

Called Harry is as fascinating as Dorian but he fascinates with theories and thoughts, not with looks and is very cynic.

  Basil Hallward:

A painter who paints a portrait of Dorian. Basil needs an ideal in his art, this ideal is Dorian, so he becomes dominated by Dorian's personality

The artist Basil painted a full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty. From the Lord's point of view beauty ends where an intellectual expression begins because the moment one sits down to think the intellect destroys the harmony of any face. So in the Lord's opinion the man in the picture never thinks because he is so beautiful. In Basil's opinion the ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world because if they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They have an undisturbed life. Although Basil has loves secrets he tells Henry who the man in the picture is: Dorian Gray. Basil tells Lord Henry that when he first saw Dorian, he knew that he had come face to face with someone whose personality was so fascinating that, if he allowed it to do so, it would absorb his whole nature, his soul, his very art itself.

 Dorian and Basil became friends at once. Basil sees Dorian every day because likes to paint him. Because of Dorian's personality Basil changed his manner in art and mode of style. The Lord wants to see Dorian although he thinks that genius lasts longer than beauty. As they enter Basil's studio they see Dorian. While Dorian sits for Basil Lord Henry talks to him.

Basil doesn't want Dorian to listen to the Lord. But the words of Lord Henry already touched Dorian. He is fascinated by the Lord but also afraid of him. Dorian can't feel that he has a marvellous youth so Lord Henry wants Dorian to realize it. When Dorian looks at his picture, it shows him his own beauty and loveliness because of Harry's influence.

 In Dorian's point of view it's very sad that he shall grow old and horrible but this picture will remain always young. He prays that if it were only the other way, he would give everything for that. Dorian gets the picture from Basil.

The Lord decides to be to him what Dorian is to the painter. He wants to dominate him and has already half done so.

 Dorian is in love with an actress named Sibyl Vane. He saw her in a he visited. Dorian wants Harry and Basil to come with him on the next day. From the Lord's point of view Dorian is only an interesting study and to a large extent he is Harry's own creation. So it's very delightful for him to watch Dorian. His sudden mad love for Sibyl is a psychological phenomenon of no small interest for him.

When the Lord arrives at home that evening he sees a telegram lying on the hall table telling him that Dorian is engaged to be married to Sibyl Vane.

They go to the theatre and when they see Sibyl she is one of the loveliest creatures they have ever seen. But when she has to say a few words the tone is absolutely false and wrong in colour. Dorian grows pale and is puzzled and anxious. Because she seems to be absolutely incompetent they are horribly disappointed. So Basil and the Lord leave the theatre but Dorian sees the play through.

As soon as the play is over Sibyl tells him that she acted so badly because she loved him. But she has killed Dorian's love with her acting. She wants him to forgive her for how she acted and wants to work hard and try to improve. But Dorian leaves her.

When he arrives at home, his eyes fall upon the portrait Basil painted of him: The face appears to him to be a little changed. Suddenly there comes across his mind what he said in Basil's studio the day the picture was finished. He wished that he himself might remain young and the portrait grow old. It seemed impossible but there is the picture with a strange touch of cruelty in the mouth.

On the next day he gets a letter from Lord Henry but doesn't open it because he is afraid there might be something in it that he wouldn't like. After a while the Lord knocks at the door and asks if he didn't get his letter because Sibyl Vane is dead. She swallowed something which had prussic acid in it. She died very fast. Dorian thinks that he murdered her but it doesn't affect him like it should. There is no further change in the picture.

On the next morning Basil comes. He read about the accident in the newspaper. Dorian tells him that from his point of view a man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. Basil is shocked. He wants to see the picture he painted of Dorian but Dorian threatens Basil by telling him that he would never speak to him again if he would see the picture. After that Dorian hides the picture.

Even years later he is as beautiful as he used to be but the picture shows an evil and ageing face. Dorian grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty and more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul.

On the eve of his 38th birthday Dorian meets Basil who tells him that the people think that Dorian is vile and degraded. Basil doesn't like the effect Dorian has on his friends. They seem to lose all sense of honour, of goodness and of purity.

After a while Dorian decides to show Basil the picture. The painter can't believe what he sees. There is something in the face's expression that fills him with disgust. Suddenly Dorian feels that he hates Basil, takes a knife and stabs Basil. On the next day he forces one of his former friends, who is interested in science, to destroy the body of the painter. At that evening Dorian goes out but on his way home he is seized from behind and before he has time to defend himself he is thrust back against the wall with a brutal hand round his throat. It's Sibyl's brother who thinks that her death is at Dorian's door. James Vane wants to kill Dorian but when he sees Dorian's face he thinks that Dorian can't be older than twenty but Sibyl killed herself eighteen years ago. So Dorian escapes.

On the next day James is shot accidentally. So Dorian is safe. Now that his life is saved he gets another view on the things and realizes that he has done too many bad things in his life and begins to perform good actions. On his last evening on earth he realizes that his beauty and the youth he prayed for ruined him. He goes to see if the picture has changed because of his good actions but it is more cruel than before. In rage he stabs the picture.

When the servants enter the room they find a splendid portrait of their master in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor is a dead man with a knife in his heart. He is old and ugly.

I liked the book because it's an everlasting circle that ones looks influence ones soul and ones soul influences ones looks and Dorian, the main character, shows both. But the theories Lord Henry suggests are even more fascinating.

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