A review by wthanyell
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

dark emotional mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


“A chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play - I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.”

As my first Wilde read, I could not get over how much of a vivid visual experience this book was. Especially in the initial few chapters where we meet the primary 3 characters of the novel; Dorian, Lord Henry & Basil. The description of the gardens and the scene of the initial painting were particularly striking.

There is some plot movement to this story, particularly in regards to the progression of Dorian's portrait but this is majorly an inner turmoil and events that affect the psych of Dorian Gray. Dorian is an absolutely abhorrent character; I couldn't stop disliking him more and more.
Spoiler How did he watch a single 3 hour play and decide that Sibyl was no longer the love of his life?
During once particular chapter, Dorian talks of his collections of embroidery, tapestries and jewels which spans for pages. It is quite a drag and maybe has some historical value but it bored and distracted me. I do feel that this was purposeful as it deterred so much from Wilde's momentum; it perhaps imitated ways of distracting himself... "everything that he collected in his lovely house, were to be to him means of forgetfulness, modes by which he would escape, for a season."
I do love how the story ends for Dorian and how many of his evils, vices & sins are implied but still relatively vague as it leaves room for the imagination.

Dorian, Lord Henry & I'm sure of many others are consistently misogynistic and rude. It's so gross to read but I guess that was the ideal of the times? The writing style in this novel is very accessible for a classic written in the 1890s so it's hard to remember that it is VERY old at times, with old opinions in them.

Overall I loved Oscar Wilde's writing style and wouldn't hesitate to possibly pick up another of his writings. Here are some quotes from this book that I liked:

“.. none of us can stand other people having the same faults as ourselves.”

“I once wore nothing but violets all through one season, as a form of artistic mourning for a romance that would not die... I forget what killed it. I think it was her proposing to sacrifice the whole world for me. That is always a dreadful moment. It fills one with the terror of eternity.”

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”

"Each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved."

Characters: 9/10 they're so horrid its good
Plot: 7/10
Writing/Style: 10/10
Enjoyment: 7/10

Overall: 4/5

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