For a school-reading book, especially one written in the 1800’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde was amazing. I feel like it’s one of those books you either love or hate and I LOVED it.
Dorian Gray has it all: gorgeous looks, tremendous fortune, and a dirt-free reputation. When Dorian wishes for a painting of him to age instead of his actual body, he never expects to get his wish. When he does he is truly horrified, but he is unwilling to reveal his dirty little secret to anyone. With every horrid act he performs, the picture grows more and more grotesque. With his looks and fortune constant, the only thing that can decompose is his reputation. After meeting Lord Henry, Dorian’s morals take a turn for the worse as Henry’s influence creeps through Dorian’s subconscious, until there is little distinguishing between Henry’s thoughts and Dorian’s. Can Dorian survive through the slow deterioration of his mind, as well as his picture? Will he even want to?
Lord Henry was definitely my favorite character in this book. He could be considered the villain, I suppose, but what he says in the book is so awesome. It completely goes against the grain and is contrary to what everyone says and it’s definitely a breath of fresh air (except for when he talks about women…). He made this book so entertaining for me, it’s not even funny. Well, it was sometimes…. Anyway, Gladys, a duchess that Dorian is friends with, is also amazing. She is like a girl version of Lord Henry, except a little more scrupulous. Actually, a lot more. But the reason I love her most is that Lord Henry always says that women don’t know anything and they are just there to look at, but Gladys really shows him who’s boss and it’s slightly/totally awesome. Dorian was really adorable at the beginning, all innocence and rosy cheeks, but as he got older he became more and more deplorable, mostly due to Lord Henry’s influence.
This is easily the most quotable book in the history of the world. THE WORLD. While I was reading it, I wrote down at least ten quotes a chapter, and vowed to remember many more of them (not that I did, but I really tried!) Here’s just a sampling of some of the awesome quotes from this book:
- · “There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”
- · “It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
- · “Is insincerity such a terrible thing? I think not. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities.”
- · “There were sins whose fascination was more in the memory than in doing them, strange triumphs that gratified the pride more than the passion, and gave to the intellect a quickened sense of joy, greater than any joy they brought, or could ever bring, to the senses. But this was not one of them.”
- · “Each of us has heaven and hell in him.”
- · “We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were much too afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to.”
- · “I knew nothing but shadows and I thought them to be real.”
- · “Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.”
- · “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”
Pretty great, eh? I never said they were moral, I just said they were awesome. Don’t judge me.
The reason I say that someone will either hate or love this book is because it is purely philosophical about… 95% of the time, I’d say. Some people hate that and love action, or vice versa. I happen to love both, so I really loved this book and I thought the philosophical points made during the book were absolutely fascinating and overwhelmingly true. The themes presented in this novel are absolutely true (no matter how much people want to believe otherwise).