Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Burlington
“Can a painting of a person tell you more about him than the person´s own face? If it is painted with love, perhaps the painting will show more than just the outside of that person – perhaps it will show the inside.”
In a small cellar, hidden from curious eyes, Dorian Gray hides the mystery of his soul; a beautiful portrait painted by his friend Basil. What dark secrets does this painting keep? What or who makes young innocent Dorian become a heartless monster? Is anyone safe from one’s own self?
The Picture of Dorian Gray , a story of beauty, art and pleasures where a young man breaks the link between body and soul and becomes a face without a heart. Only the picture painted with love tells the true story, revealing the real Dorian Gray, a man that grew sick of hate.
If we dig deeper in the story, we can see that everything that Dorian does is motivated by his own vanity, even the most seemingly altruistic actions. For example, when he left the country girl and wanted to start a new life where he shall be good, the real reason why he does it is to change the portrait, to change the ugliness of his soul, but when he sees that he cannot do it, he tries to kill his unpleasant part, killing himself in the process. Just like Narcissus, he felt in love with his own image, and was ultimately destroyed by it.
But, who shall we blame for this? Shall we blame Lord Henry for teaching him his dangerous ideas, or Basil, who was unable to help Dorian? Shall we blame Dorian for his own actions or the superficial society he lived in, where people didn´t believe he had a dark side because of his beautiful face? This is just a matter of whether we think that the people that influence us have power over our actions or that we have full control of what we do in this life. That is just a little food for thought.
The characters all represent something. We can say that Lord Henry represents experience, with his hedonistic view of life, always valuing pleasure and beauty over morals and responsibilities, he takes ideas and plays with them, and he gives them wings. On the other side, Basil, represents the good path, the values over the beauty and the innocence in some ways; however we can also say that he had a darker side, because one of the main reasons why he liked Dorian was because Dorian changed his art, so we can say that he valued his art more than his friends. James Vane represents the conscience of Dorian, something that he can´t escape from. We can say that Sybil Vane represents the first love, but I think that she actually shows us that both Lord Henry and Dorian have a very artistic way of viewing life, for example, when Sybil committed suicide, Lord Henry said that her death was a beautiful end to a love story for an actress “That girl never really lived, so she never really died. Don´t cry for Sybil Vane. She was less real than Juliette.” What this say to us is that they kind of believed that life was like a play on the theatre.
ASSESMENT:I will give it a nine out of ten because this book really makes you think about the beauty within and of what is really important in life. The portrait is just the mirror where Dorian can see his own soul, what if we all had a portrait like that? Will we all be happy with the way it looks I wonder?
RECOMMENDATION: I would recommend this book to those teenagers so worried about the looks, just to make them stop and think for a moment if they really believe that everything that glitters is gold inside.
AUTOR: Paula Martín Fernández. Alumna de 3ºESO