The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde has always been one of my favorite writers. I think he is extremely clever in his writing. When I was in high school, I tried reading his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, but about halfway through, it became very difficult and I never finished it. A while back, I decided to give it another try.

For those who don’t know the basic story line of this book, it is a story about a young man who has a portrait made of him. The portrait is very beautiful, and Dorian in his vanity, wishes that the portrait could age instead of him. And so it does. Not only does it age while Dorian stays young, but it also carries the weight of the sins he commits in his life while his own face stays young and innocent.

As I was rereading The Picture of Dorian Gray, I was so caught up in the story that I thought to myself, “What was wrong with me when I was younger that I couldn’t get through this?” The story was compelling, witty, and easy to read.

And then I got to the halfway point. This was the spot where I had given up on my last read through, and now I understood why. In the middle of this book is a chapter that works as a transition from the first half of the story to the second half. There is a bunch of summary about what Dorian has been doing during the years in between the two sections of the story, and there is a lot of self-reflection on Dorian’s part. And, well, it’s boring. And long.

However, it is only one chapter. If the reader can make it through that bit, then the story picks back up and the second half of the novel is just as compelling as the first.

I am glad I made it through to this end when I read The Picture of Dorian Gray this time. The final scene in the book really is a great one.

Overall, this book is worth the read, especially if you are a fan of Wilde’s style. When you reach the boring bit, just push through. Once the story picks back up, you will find it worthwhile.



Filed under Books

3 responses to “The Picture of Dorian Gray

  1. Couldn’t agree more with you with regards to the transition chapter, that one takes some effort to get through! The final scene is an interesting one, I’ve never been sure whether he intended to kill himself or not though, what did you think?

    • Excellent question! I think he was tired and ready to end his life, which he felt would happen if he destroyed the picture. However, I am not sure whether ‘ending his life’ meant removing the abnormalities from his life (ending his bizarre life and making it normal) or actually killing himself. I think a part of him knew that he would be destroying himself in some way when he destroyed the picture.

  2. Yes, I see what you mean; towards the end the tone of the book is very different, and Dorian simply seems to be bored and exhausted. It’s a great ending because the motivations Dorian has can’t quite be pinned down.

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