Synopsis: Dorian Gray is a beautiful and innocent teen when his portrait is painted by an admirer. However, Dorian is soon corrupted by the world. Somehow, the portrait of Dorian becomes uglier and uglier as Dorian’s soul becomes blacker – but Dorian himself remains as beautiful as ever.
My Thoughts: This seems like one of those books that literary folks all want to have read, but no one actually reads. It wasn’t a book I’d ever read again, but I think it was quite…soulful.
Well-Educated Mind Analysis (SPOILER ALERT): Even though this book is not one of those suggested by Bauer’s The Well Educated Mind, I’m using her outline of questions to analyze this story:
👽What is the most central life-changing event?
Dorian Gray had a love interest towards the beginning of the book. When he realized that love wasn’t all it cracked up to be, he was very cruel when ridding himself of her. She killed herself in response. This is when his portrait changed for the first time.
👽Am I transported? Do I see, feel, and hear this other world?
Well, it wasn’t the most exciting book I’ve ever read, I suppose, but it was entertaining enough.
👽Can I sympathize with the people who live there? Do I understand their wants and desires and problems? Or am I left unmoved?
I don’t know if I can really sympathize with Dorian Gray. He is a terrible, selfish person and he deserves any negative outcome that he gets. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really get many negative outcomes at all. In this way, I am emotionally involved in the story of Dorian Gray.
👽Is this a fable or a chronicle?
This is a fable.
If the novel is a fable, what was the intent? Is it an allegory? If not, is it speculation?
I believe this was an allegory about the state of one’s soul. Perhaps that beauty is only skin deep. Or that one’s greatest secret is the state of one’s soul. To be honest, I didn’t really get the book.
👽What does the central character want? What is standing in his or her way? What strategy is pursued to overcome this block?
This character wants to enjoy life selfishly, with no thought about how his actions might affect others. The only thing that stands in the way is the portrait, which reveals in horrifying detail how deranged Dorian’s soul is. Dorian puts the painting away in an attic and kills the only person who has seen it.
👽Who is telling you this story? Is this person reliable?
The narrator is omniscient. It seems reliable enough.
👽Where is the story set?
👽 Beginnings and endings. Does the beginning sentence/scene come with meaningful imagery that represents where the story is going? Does the end have a resolution or a logical exhaustion?
In the beginning, Dorian first met the man who would end up negatively influencing him the most. By listening to the philosophical ramblings of this character, we learned where Dorian would be led.
There was a resolution at the end, though not an optimistic one. It implied that Dorian’s greatest problem was solved (he was no longer in danger of being killed by the brother of his former lover), and he was going to continue living his degenerate life without negative repercussions.
👽Did the writer’s times affect him?
They always do
👽Is there an argument in this book? If so, do you agree?
I don’t think so.
3 thoughts on “The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde”
Hi Rachel – I did not realize that you were blogging at this address. I have added it to my blog reader.
I read this for the first time a few years ago. I was very impressed with it. I thought that it was not just literally but that it exhibited some everyday life lessens. I think that all the things that you mention, about the book being an allagory on the soul, about beauty, etc. are correct. I remember there being a lot going on in this book.
Yes, this is probably a book that I’d understand better on a reread. As it is, I have suspicions about what the story’s meaning is, but I need to explore it more. But I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. Too much to read, too little time.