The Picture of Dorian Gray is the story of one beautiful, innocent young man'sseduction, moral corruption, and eventual downfall.And, oh yeah: it's also thestory of a really creepy painting.We meet our three central characters at the ...
Author: Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the story of one beautiful, innocent young man'sseduction, moral corruption, and eventual downfall.And, oh yeah: it's also thestory of a really creepy painting.We meet our three central characters at the beginning of the book, when painterBasil Hallward and his close friend, Lord Henry Wotton, are discussing thesubject of Basil's newest painting, a gorgeous young thing named Dorian Gray.Basil and Henry discuss just how perfectly perfect Dorian is--he's totallyinnocent and completely good, as well as being the most beautiful guy ever towalk the earth. Lord Henry wants to meet this mysterious boy, but Basil doesn'twant him to; for some reason, he's afraid of what will happen to Dorian if LordHenry digs his claws into him.However, Lord Henry gets his wish--Dorian shows up that very afternoon, and,over the course of the day, Henry manages to totally change Dorian'sperspective on the world. From that point on, Dorian's previously innocent pointof view is dramatically different--he begins to see life as Lord Henry does, as asuccession of pleasures in which questions of good and evil are irrelevant.Basil finishes his portrait of Dorian, and gives it to the young man, who keeps itin his home, where he can admire his own beauty. Lord Henry continues to exerthis influence over Dorian, to Basil's dismay. Dorian grows more and moredistant from Basil, his former best friend, and develops his own interests.One of these interests is Sybil Vane, a young, exceptionally beautiful,exceptionally talented--and exceptionally poor--actress. Though she's stuckperforming in a terrible, third-rate theatre, she's a truly remarkable artist, andher talent and beauty win over Dorian. He falls dramatically in love with her,and she with him.For a moment, it seems like everything will turn out wonderfully. However, thisis just the beginning of Dorian's story. Once he and Sybil are engaged, her talentsuddenly disappears--she's so overcome with her passionate love for Dorianthat none of her roles on stage seem important to her anymore. This destroysDorian's love for her, and he brutally dumps her. Back home, he notices asomething different in his portrait--it looks somehow crueler. In the meanwhile,the distraught Sybil commits suicide, just as Dorian decides to return to her andtake back his terrible words.Sybil's suicide changes everything. At first, Dorian feels horrible... but he ratherquickly changes his tune. On Lord Henry's suggestion, Dorian reads amysterious "yellow book," a decadent French novel that makes him reevaluatehis whole belief system. The protagonist of the book lives his life in pursuit ofsensual pleasures, which intrigues Dorian. From this moment on, Dorian is achanged man.Dorian starts to live as hedonistically as his wicked mentor, Lord Henry, does.The only thing that documents this turn for the worst is the portrait, whichalarmingly begins to exhibit the inward corruption of Dorian's soul; thebeautiful image changes, revealing new scars and physical flaws with each ofDorian's dastardly actions. As years pass, the man in the picture grows more andmore hideous, as Dorian himself stays unnaturally young and beautiful. Rumorsstart to spread about the various people whose lives Dorian has ruined, and hisformerly good reputation is destroyed.On Dorian's 38th birthday, he encounters Basil, who desperately asks his formerfriend if all the horrifying rumors about him are true. Dorian finally snaps andshows Basil the portrait, in which the horrible truth about his wicked nature isrevealed. Basil recoils, and begs Dorian to pray for forgiveness. In response,Dorian murders Basil, stabbing him brutally. He blackmails another of hisformer friends into disposing of the body.Dorian retreats to an opium den after dealing with all of the evidence, where heencounters an enemy he didn't know he had--Sybil Vane's brother