Out of all the live action depictions of Dorian Gray, once- and only once- is he depicted as being a blonde.
Which is a big Fucking deal because Oscar Wilde intentionally made him blonde because he wanted him to look like an innocent little twink and not some emo psychopath.
I guess even by the late 19th Century the typical pale, dark hair, handsome figure had been done to death. It’s practically an emo kids wet dream, that and suicide.
Ok, so it’s been well over two months since I finished up my reviews for the Dubliners, so this article is well over due.
As you can tell from my other reviews, I have a Love/Hate relationship with Oscar Wilde.
On one hand; he’s a master at orchestrating language, he’s very capable of writing exceptional dialogue and he has a lot of good quotes, alongside a few good messages.
On the other hand; he’s appalling at orchestrating plot, his stories lack structure, he focuses more on themes and aesthetics than he does about characters, he rambles on far too long- and this book isn’t even that long. It’s 160 odd pages but it feels like a short story. If you hand this book over to a good editor they’d chop it down to 120 pages- easily.
And they’d have enough sense to cut out all the Fucking French. Seriously, like a tenth of this book is in French.
What self respecting Englishman would speak French?
Ok, I know I’m being a little harsh here. I concede that he is not as insufferable as Joyce (which isn’t saying much) and I do enjoy his works to some degree. A limited degree, but a degree none the less.
He also looks like Former UK Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband from some Photos, which is a plus.
So the Picture (not Portrait) of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde’s only novel. He’s most known for his plays, children’s stories and poems. The novel itself does pose an interesting question; what would happen to a man who had eternal youth?
The obvious question is that he’d fuck about, go to a few opium dens and fuck hookers from dusk till dawn. In fact, I believe there was a movie about what would happen if people were immortal. It concluded that everyone would be in constant conflict and they’d be having sex all the time. Sean Connery was in it.
Just let that burn it’s way onto your brain.
But that does raise questions about mortality and what exactly would happen if we were capable of preventing our bodies from physically aging. I think it’s an important question to ask because everyday it’s looking less like Fantasy and more like reality.
Kurzgesagt made a video about it. Scientists are working on a way to prevent cells from degrading over time, meaning that if some day we harness the technology to repair our DNA from withering over time we essentially hold the capabilities to harness Eternal Youth.
But we won’t be able to make ourselves younger. If this technology were to be developed in my lifetime- it would be commercially viable by the time I’m 60, at the very least. Preventing old age means that the body is less susceptible to dying from disease or cancer, because our cells wouldn’t degrade like they would if we were Older. That means I could live to the ripe old age of 300 but have the body of a 60 year old.
However I’m quite cynical about an increased lifespan. For starters there’d be issues with overpopulation which would innevitabley drain resources, the NHS is fucked already- never mind having to take care of a few million centenarians.
But also there’s the sociological issues that potential immortality would bring. The world is always constantly changing in regards to both technology and culture, which is a good thing but a lot of people have a hard time adjusting. One of the major reasons people voted for Trump and Brexit was because they thought a simple vote would return them to the “good old days” it’s a cultural backlash from too much change happening too fast.
And I get it, change is scary. I mean I am very pessimistic about the future and the weird shit I’ll have to adapt to. I mean, at some point in your lifetime you will be sitting beside someone who has never had to wipe their own ass in their entire life- because a robot did it for them.
How the fuck am I supposed to relate to these Fuckers?! I struggle to relate to people from my Own Generation– Nevermind the people from Generation-Never Used a Wetwipe!
In conclusion, Eternal Youth is a horrible idea. And now, back to the review.
The first time I heard about Dorian Gray was through a friend. I was in the first year of A-Level, which was about two years ago. A friend of mine had a copy of it and he was going on and on about how much he loved the book (even went so far as to say that he would Fuck Oscar Wilde) citing that the book is incredibly quotable. Which he wasn’t wrong about. I mean, listen to these quotes;
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
“A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.”
“He was late on principle, his principle being that Punctuality is the thief of time“
My friend’s favourite was; “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about at all.”
Mine was; “Art is quite useless” which is quite possibly the only time any author in the history of literature has been self aware about their sheer uselessness. I found that quite relateable.
I have a copy of all of Oscar Wilde’s works at home, so that night I began reading Dorian Grey. He was right, it was quite quotable. That doesn’t mean that it’s good, but it was quotable. Kind of like how the Phantom Menace is quotable.
So the story starts out with a painter called Basil Hallward (based on Basil Ward, the real life friend of Oscar Wilde and the guy who inspired the story) and his Friend[?] Lord Henry Wotton (people call him Harry) and they’re just hanging out in Basil’s art studio. They get to talking and it’s revealed that Harry is a bit of a dirty bastard, some refer to him as wicked- cause he says provocative things. Mostly about women (the way he rambles on clearly makes him a Misogynist) along with his pro-hedonist agenda and the fact that he says quite fucked up things about certain people or topics (we know they’re fucked up because there’s always some cunt who says “Harry, how horrible!” or “Harry, how could you!” which is helpful for people from the 21st Century, because the way he talks isn’t exactly provocative by our standards) and Basil is the nice, quiet, polite little painter- the straight man to Harry’s debauchery.
The thing to note about Harry is that he’s not necessarily evil. He says fucked up things, but he doesn’t do fucked up things. He’s the 19th Century equivalent of an Internet Troll- he’s just out to get a rise out of people. The character is loosely based off of a man by the name of Lord Ronald Gower, a one time friend of Wilde’s. He was well known among the Gay community of the time (which was a big deal considering Homosexuality was illegal back then) he once sued the News of the World for suggesting he was Gay (which he called Slanderous) and he got in some kind row with the Prince of Wales who sent him a letter which suggested that he was “a member of an association for unnatural practices” so he responded with an angry letter of his own. It was basically the Victorian Equivalent of a Twitter feud.
In 1890 Lord Ronald was implicated in the Cleveland Street Scandal; where a Male Brothel was uncovered by police. The British Government was accused of covering up the whole thing in order to protect certain aristocrats who ventured there. It’s rumoured that Prince Albert Victor, the son of the then Prince of Wales and second in line to the throne was often seen in the brothel.
Jesus Christ, he looks like Freddie Mercury with a missing chromosome.
It’s important to address that his attendance at the Brothel has never been confirmed and the British press never ever suggested anything about the Prince at all, that would be the duty of foreign newspapers.
Lord Ronald was also the main inspiration of The Portrait of W.H, one of Wilde’s short stories. Critics believe that this was Wilde’s way of criticizing his former friend’s social circle and his outlook on life.
The character of Harry is interesting, because he’s the man who corrupts the sensibilities of a young Dorian Grey and condemns him to a life of empty pleasure and debauchery. While Dorian mars his name by doing fucked up shit, Harry doesn’t. He talks a lot of shit about leading a life purely dedicated to the pursuit of sin and pleasure but he doesn’t do anything. All he does is go to fancy parties, reads some weird books, rambles on about shit that he doesn’t have the balls to do himself just so he could provoke the moral stooges around him- that’s it. I think Basil sums up his character very well in the first chapter; “You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing“.
So, Harry and Basil are chatting away and they come to the topic of Basil’s latest work of art. A portrait of a Young man called Dorian Grey, whom Basil is infatuated with. The Painter talks some shite about how he can’t show the painting in a gallery because there’s too much of the painter in him and it’s…I don’t fucking know. He’s a weird man.
Basil doesn’t want Harry to meet Dorian because he is afraid (justifiably so) that he would corrupt the boy’s soul. But as soon as he says that, Dorian arrives at the art studio. The book constantly reminds you how beautiful Dorian is, it’s one of the major things about his character. Like, even when he does fucked up shit and people are talking about him behind his back- as soon as he enters a room he snuffs out all those rumors cause people are like; “Oh, look at him- he’s too pretty to be addicted to Opium” so it’s understandable why Harry takes a liking to him almost immediately.
And Harry has game. Like he talks a little to Dorian, then when Basil asks him to leave he initially complies- but he’s charmed Dorian so much that he doesn’t want him to go. So he has him pressure Basil in letting him stay- which he has to cause Dorian threatens to leave and never see him again. Harry is a sneaky bastard, I’ll give him that.
So Harry talks a load of shite for a few pages and basically turns Dorian to the Dark Side. Basil just sits there and takes it, cause he’s a weird little man. The whole thing was quite weird and melodramatic. Like, Harry talked a load of shite about how Life should be dedicated to the pursuit of Pleasure and how Dorian was extraordinarily gifted in this pursuit because he was so pretty and then he reminded Dorian that age will make him ugly like the rest of us so you might as well fuck about.
And that apparently upset Dorian a lot because he never once considered the prospect of…age? Jesus Christ he really is Blonde.
So when Basil completes the Portrait Dorian has a shit-fit and rambles on about how he wishes that the Portait would age and that he would remain the same and then he went to the sofa and cried inside a pillow.
I’m not making that up, he literally did that. Oscar Wilde wrote that almost word for word. This is a whole new level of Posh-Cuntery.
And we haven’t even got to the Sphinx without a Secret.
So Dorian starts hanging out with Harry all the time after this. Harry visits his Uncle and asks him about Dorian’s heritage. His Uncle knows this because he knew his mother or something. Basically what happened was Dorian’s mother ran off with a Sailor or a soldier- I can’t mind, he was poor. His grandfather was pissed about this so he arranged to have his father killed in a fight. The mother never forgave him but she was already pregnant. She died while Dorian was young and the Grandfather raised him, poorly. He was really emotionally distant because Dorian reminded him so much about his Mother.
Dorian Grey has Daddy issues, that’s why he’s so susceptible to Harry’s Charm. Yes, he really is that Blonde.
A month passes and Dorian tells Harry that he is “In Love” with this Actress that works in a really shitty Theater. Her name is Sibyl Vane. He fell in love while she was performing in one of her plays.
Ok, just to clarify- Dorian is not in love with Sibyl Vane. No, Dorian is just a lustful moron that wants to drain the poison out of his balls. Drain the poison…You can tell I grew up in a Catholic Country, can’t you?
Dorian is what Point Break refers to as being; “Young, Dumb and Full of Cum“. You can’t fall in love with a person in like a week. No, to be in love with a person you have to be infatuated with that individual for well over six months- and then you have to wait another six moths to say that you love them just for good measure. That or TV is lying to me, which I doubt it is. Why would the TV lie?
Anyway, Harry talks a load of shite again and upsets Dorian. They make up or something and then Dorian fucks off to see Sibyl perform another play. Harry then walks about for a while and then later on he gets a telegram that says that Dorian and Sibyl are engaged.
Ok, so Sibyl Vane is this really poor and naive actress that works alongside her mother in this really shitty Theater that plays for the working class. Her mother is like this really eccentric, former actress that is…well, she’s weird. All Actors are weird to some degree. So Sibyl rambles on about Dorian (She doesn’t know his name, she just calls him “Prince Charming“) and her mother is initially skeptical and she warns her about going off with this posh cunt. Then she realizes “Oh fuck, he probably has money” and by the time her son comes home she’s immediately on board.
Her son is James Vane, also known as the only fucking normal person in this book. He and his mother don’t get along, partially because she withholds information about his Father and the fact that James is sick and tired of her eccentricity. He goes for a walk with Sibyl, we learn that he’s a Sailor and he’s going on a ship to Australia at the end of the day. Sibyl talks a lot about the adventures he would have in a lot of detail, despite being naive she has a huge imagination.
She talks briefly about “Prince Charming” and James swears that He’ll kill him if he hurts her. That gains a few weird gazes from passersby, which he was getting anyway cause he was scruffy looking guy walking alongside a pretty girl in a fancy park. The two say good bye, this is the last they see each other.
Later he confronts his mother about his Father, which she was admittedly nervous about but when the moment came she was disappointed because it wasn’t theatrical…? I don’t know, she’s fucking weird. Anyway, turns out James’ parents weren’t married so that makes him a Bastard, like Jon Snow. They end on good terms and they say good bye.
So Harry and Basil are having Dinner and they’re talking about Dorian’s engagement. Basil is upset about it because he’s a goddamn weirdo who’s infatuated with Dorian while Harry is indifferent to it cause he’s a cynical bastard and doesn’t see the marriage lasting long either way. Dorian shows up, they talk a little- Harry says something fucked up[?] and Dorian scolds him for it “Harry, how could you!” and then they head on down to the theater.
The theater is really shabby and is run by a really stereotypical depiction of a Jew. Like, picture the most antisemitic depiction of a Middle aged Jewish man you can think of- now imagine if Oscar Wilde wrote hat word for word.
What the fuck is up with classical literature and antisemitism? Seriously, I had the same fucking issue with James Joyce. Stop presenting the Jews in a negative light- they’re a decent people, leave em’ alone.
For the record, I imagined the Jewish Character as resembling Omid Djalili’s character from Black Books.
I know that Omid isn’t Jewish (he’s of Iranian descent so he’s Muslim) but he did play a Jew in a movie once, it was called “The Infidel” he played a Muslim guy who found out that he was adopted and that he’s actually Jewish. It’s funny because (unfortunately) some of the Muslim Community really don’t like the Jews.
Anyway, Dorian fucking hates this Guy (thinking that’s he’s a “Filthy Jew“) while Harry finds him delightful, Basil is indifferent. They watch the play and Sibyl is awful at acting. Just awful. Dorian is deeply embarrassed and Harry and Basil leave early, along with most of the audience.
Dorian sits through the entire show (which is apparently agonizingly bad) and he grows to hate her. After the play he confronts her and makes her feel like shit for being such a shit actress. She says the reason that she didn’t act good (act good? …aye, fuck it- why not?) was because she was so madly in love with him that she couldn’t pretend to have emotions hat she did not have and…I don’t fucking know. She’s as weird as her mother.
Dorian was a straight up dick. He called off the marriage, shamed her and while she was grovelling at his feet he literally felt nothing but scorn. He left her there, heartbroken.
When he got home he discovered that the portrait was altered, he looked cruel. That fucked him up a little but then he went to sleep. He checked again in the morning and it turned out that he wasn’t seeing things in the dark, the portrait had in fact altered. He felt guilty about what he did to Sibyl and he planned on going back to her and apologizing. Harry came in that very second, Sibyl killed herself.
Dorian was upset by this, Harry reassured him that this couldn’t come back to haunt him because no one at the theater knew who he was. Dorian talked about turning himself in and how bad he felt but Harry reassured him that he made the right call and that it was Sibyl’s own choice to kill herself and it had nothing to do with him (except, y’know, tearing her heart to shreds) and Harry concluded that if he had married her they’d both be miserable and she’d start having an affair (ironically, Harry’s wife would later have an affair and leave him) and that it was right to forget all about her because she lost her aesthetic value. Dorian loved her because of her talent at acting, once she could no longer act then he ceased loving her.
So Harry concludes that the suicide was noble of her because it was very aesthetic and Dorian did absolutely nothing wrong, unless you count everything that he had ever done to her. This motif of Aestheticism plays a huge part to the Novel and is partly why it kind of sucks. Basically Aestheticism was the idea that Art should be focused more on being beautiful rather than having a deeper meaning – ‘Art for Art’s sake‘.
Wilde was a huge contributor to this movement. He believed that it did not matter if art or literature had meaning, so long as it was beautiful. Most of the characters in the novel share this world view, that you literally should judge a book by its cover and its cover alone. That’s why they’re objectively terrible people and unrelateable. They care more about Aesthetics than they do about people.
I know that this worldview doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it doesn’t but sadly a lot of people still share this. Take this story I read a few days ago, where a bunch of Posh Cunts put spikes on trees so that birds couldn’t rest there.
They did it to keep the birds from shitting on their cars and pavement. I mean, just look at that- how much of a cunt do you have to be to put that shite up?
Dorian concludes that the Portrait has magical properties, as he ages his physical body will look exactly as it was when he was around twenty but the portrait will age and grow more sinister looking as he commits more and more sins. The book is loosely based off of Plato’s republic. Where he brings up the Myth of the Ring of Gyges, a device that allows the wearer to turn invisible (kind of like the Ring from Lord of the Rings) the pupils ask Socrates; “If one came into possession of such a ring, why should he act justly?” because you could get away with anything if no one sees you. Socrates’ concludes that although nobody can see you, the soul sees all. Each sin you commit tarnishes the soul and it weighs you down.
So the Portrait of Dorian Grey is essentially a glimpse at the erosion of the Man’s soul and body. Because the book claims that if you commit a sin, that sin shows itself on your face. You can tell how much of a scumbag a person is by the shape of the way they look. It’s Wilde’s view of Aestheticism reasserting itself.
So Basil comes to comfort Dorian about Sibyl’s suicide but he finds that Dorian is super OK with the whole thing. Basil queries about he Portrait and Dorian gets very upset, in an attempt to calm him down Basil admits his devotion and infatuation with the young man and Dorian is like “…Ok.” clearly its a one sided relationship.
Dorian then locks away the portrait so that no one can see it. Harry gives him a book (a very dirty book) that corrupts Dorian’s soul even further. Its never disclosed in the book what novel Dorian read, though Wilde himself conceded during his trial that it was in fact a book called “À rebours” written by a Frenchman named Joris-Karl Huysmans.
This changed the way Dorian saw life. When he first observed the changes in the Painting he was horrified, he thought that this was a wake up call. He planned on using the Portrait as a moral compass, if the portrait displayed all his sins he would make sure that these sins were repented so that he could keep a clean soul and thus a clean painting. But he quickly realized that the Painting would age and he genuinely couldn’t conclude which was worse- the signs of Sin or the signs of Age.
The book was Harry’s last push and Dorian had officially gone to the Dark Side. He concluded that the Painting would keep his body pure, so he indulged in all the sins he desired to commit. Rumours of course circulated but they were put to rest when people saw him- “How could a man so Pretty commit such horrors?” he ruined a lot of people’s lives in the process. People that hung around him became enveloped in scandals, were disowned by their families, forced to flee the country, became opium addicts and in some extreme cases- they committed suicide.
We cut to eighteen years later (yes, Wilde thought it was a good idea to do a jump cut to eighteen years after the whole Sibyl Vane thing) Dorian is around thirty eight but he looks like he’s twenty. He walks past Basil on the street, doing his best to ignore him but Basil doesn’t get the hint and he walks along with him.
They head home and Basil confronts Dorian about all these rumours about him fucking about, hanging around opium dens and poor people and hookers and attending orgies- everything. Basil is visibly upset and he requests to see Dorian’s soul but says that only God can see a Man’s soul- to which Dorian laughs and says “Fuck, I’m going to show you my painting” which is a big deal because Dorian is super paranoid about the painting. Like, he refuses to leave England just in case somebody sneaks a peak at the portrait. Showing Basil his secret shame is a huge deal for him.
Basil is appalled when he sees the Portrait, it’s like Dorian but incredibly hideous. Dorian starts crying and Basil keeps pleading for him to repent and ask for forgiveness- he even goes so far as to get down on his knees and pray and then Dorian gets really fucking angry (He looks at the Portrait and apparently it gives him a newly formed hatred of Basil) he blames Basil for making him the man he is today (he’s an individualist when it comes to his Fiancee’s suicide, but when it comes to his own actions he blames everything on a artsy weirdo who made a painting of him once) so he picks up a knife and stabs basil to Death.
Yep, that Happened.
He cleans the knife, goes outside the house- comes back in five minutes later by waking up the butler. He makes up some bullshit about losing his key, basically he just wanted an alibi that could be confirmed by the Butler. The next day he calls for his former friend Alan Campbell, a Chemist.
He pleads with him to dissolve the body but Alan isn’t having it, he doesn’t want anything to do with his crimes. Dorian says “But it was a Suicide” and Alan doesn’t care, then Dorian says “Ok, I murdered him” and Alan cares even less. So Dorian blackmails him into dissolving the body, we’re not privy to what the blackmail is exactly. It’s like one of those “Oh my god it’s so horrible and vile that we can’t even begin to describe it” which is the biggest cop-out in Storytelling.
The writer is so lazy that he does not have the energy to describe the horrible thing that the character has committed, he leaves it up to the viewers imagination. To be fair, Doctor who is pretty guilty of this. The Doctor was played a huge role in an event known as “The Time War” which was a plot device to excuse the fact that Doctor who had been cancelled in 1997 and restarted in 2005- so it was basically an answer to “Oh, so whats he been up to the last eight years?” so he’s been at war but script writers never clarify what exactly he done in the war but apparently it was super bad and horrible and you can’t talk about it.
Like, the closest we get to an answer is in The Day of the Doctor where John Hurt’s War Doctor was about to Blow up Galifray which…isn’t big fucking deal cause he doesn’t go through with it, he just sends it to an alternate dimension or something. So the Planet isn’t dead and all his enemies aren’t dead so the war was literally a Giant waste of time but it was super traumatic. So traumatic that he can’t even begin to describe it. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor gave a good speech about it.
The problem with the viewer having to use their imagination to suggest what the horrible deed the character committed is that each individuals imagination varies differently. Like one viewer could imagine “Oh my God- he killed a Person!” while the other viewer would imagine “Wow, Doctor Who did the Rape on Nanking- in Space” do you see the issue?
Anyway, Alan dissolves the body and gets rid of all the evidence. Dorian thanks him for his help. We learn later on that Alan committed suicide over the guilt.
So Dorian’s a little shook after committing murder, so he goes to an Opium den. As you do. To his disappointment one of the guys he used to hang out with is there, he’s an opium addict. He has a drink and thinks “Fuck it, I’ll go to a different Opium den” and one of the the women in the den calls after him saying “Prince Charming” which wakes up the sailor that was sleeping on the table.
Dorian goes to leave, he’s on the street but a man grabs him the throat and pushes him into an alleyway. It’s James Vane, Sibyl’s brother and he’s looking for vengeance. He’s about to kill Dorian but then he says “Wait, so this thing happened like 18 years ago? Like, Fuck dude- look at me- I’m too young! I didn’t drive your sister to suicide!”
James is a little embarrassed. Dorian gets up and says it happens to everyone and then he fucks off. One of the Den Women/Hookers comes out and she says “You know he’s like forty, right? He sold his soul or some shit for eternal youth” so James is obviously annoyed at this and he begins the Hunt for Dorian Grey, which unlike The Hunt for Tony Blair– was rather shit.
This is by far the weakest point in the book. There’s so much wasted potential here. Wilde fought tooth and nail to keep this subplot in the book cause he thought that Dorian being hunted by James Vane is essentially his conscience coming to get him. He’s literally Death chasing after Dorian.
But he gets shot and killed by a fucking side character. That’s right, Oscar Wilde fought tooth and nail to keep in a subplot that meant the protagonist was super paranoid about his own safety only for James Vane to be shot and killed by accident by a man who’s only in the story because Dorian is trying to fuck his wife.
There was so much wasted potential here. Like, I understand why Wilde kept the subplot- it was important to establish Dorian’s staggering fear of death and that his actions have consequences, an idea that Dorian abandoned when he first discovered his portraits capabilities. If his crimes against the Vane family could come back to haunt him then why not the many other people whose lives he has destroyed?
The death of James Vane is a wake-up call to Dorian and he decides to change his life for the better- by ditching a girl who he had been dating.
…Yeah, Harry called out his bullshit too. Going as far as saying that by the sheer fact she had been exposed to a man of such beauty and manner that she would never be satisfied with anyone else. She might have even killed herself, which I interpret from the books ending was infact the case.
Harry says some fucked up and ignorant things. Like how crime is exclusive to the lower classes because that’s how they achieve artistic expression…?
He’s just a fucking moron. Even after Dorian practically admits that he killed Basil, Harry shrugs it off by suggesting it was not in his character to commit such an act.
At this point in time Dorian realises that Harry is a fucking moron and his entire outlook on life is incomprehensible, tedious and ultimately corrosive.
Dorian goes home to see if the portrait had changed for the better. To no one’s surprise, it did not. Infact it looked worse because it presented him as a hypocrite who refuses to atone for his sins but takes pride in the fact that he was, in this one instance, not a complete and utter cunt.
He notices that there is more blood on his hands in the portrait, initially the blood appeared after he Murdered Basil but now he’s also responsible for the death of James Vane and perhaps the suicide of the girl he had ditched earlier on.
He picks up a knife and strikes the portrait in anger. Killing him. When his servants arrive to the scene they see that the Portrait depicts the twenty year old protagonist, while on the ground they see a hideous old man with a knife plunged in him.
I actually really like this ending, it’s just the perfect way to end the story. As he’s the one that cursed himself to begin with, it’s only right that he’s the one to end it.
It’s also worth noting that he didn’t intend to kill himself as he only tried to destroy the painting out of a fit of rage and the desire to eliminate the evidence of his crimes. Because Dorian insisted his existence be inconsequential to him, by living a life dictated by short term pleasures and emotive impulses- that meant his decisions had consequences he did not forsee.
It’s deeply ironic that his end came about due to his impulsive decisions that he did not think through.
He is the last victim of his own greed and carelessness.
The ending really questions the inclusion of James Vane at all. I mean, he can’t kill him. The portrait ensures that he’s immortal, because the only way to kill Dorian is by destroying the portrait.
Sure, James is heavily responsible for Dorian analysing his behaviour in the first place- but surely the guilt of killing Basil would have sufficed? What about Alan’s suicide? Is Dorian so fucking dumb and vain that he literally needs to be hit over the head with a pistol for him to reconsider his poor life choices?
Of fucking course he does, he really is that Blonde.
The James Vane subplot could have been really good. I mean, imagine Dorian’s paranoia alienating his friends- doing irreparable damage to his already tarnished social status. Then when James comes along seeking his revenge, he shoots Dorian in the heart. But it doesn’t kill him and James is devastated- his one and only shot at vengeance has failed and now he’s being dragged away kicking and screaming.
Dorian’s inability to die disturbs him greatly. Not only is his soul on display but now he feels even more like a Godforsaken creature- something unnatural and wrong. This leads him to destroy the painting once and for all.
I think that would work. Let me know what you think in the comments down below.
If we analyse this story there’s a lot to discuss. When I was doing my research and re-reading the novel I was surprised to find how Gay it was.
Let me elaborate; Harry and Basil talk about Dorian as if he were a romantic interest. Their interactions with him are incredibly homoerotic. Alan Campbell was blackmailed because Dorian had proof that he engaged in Gay sex- and he killed himself out of guilt and fear he may be exposed. There’s a lot of Gay undertones throughout the book and it’s probably the main reason why the book was very controversial when it was initially published.
Oscar Wilde even wrote a preface for the book in order to defend his work from the critics. It came along with my copy of the book:
I just know that there’ll be fuckers that’ll spend twenty odd minutes reading one of my 5,000+ word articles yet can’t be bothered reading an image that has more than a sentence in it.
Ok, so for you lazy fucks I’ll summarize the Preface for you.
So Wilde never addresses the Gay undertones of the novel (Probably because he had enough sense to realise that at the time Homosexuality was illegal) but he does address the other contraversies of the book; like the characters endorsement of a hedonistic lifestyle, the description of opium dens and the excruciating detail of a violent Murder. He basically says that people who see ugly things in beautiful things are morally bankrupt cunts while the people who see beautiful things in beautiful things are good.
Basically he’s saying that the critics can go fuck themselves. He’s the 19th century equivalent of a DCEU Fan.
The preface also highlights the author’s devotion to Aestheticism. Keep in mind that this view was ground breaking for the time. The idea that art and literature didn’t need to present moral distinctions was absurd. Nobody could value art as being meaningless or valuing it’s beauty for no other reason than it was beautiful.
Wilde literally believed you should judge a book by its cover.
His devotion to Aestheticism is the main issue with the book. I mean, I can understand how you could make a painting that means nothing- but you can’t write a book that means nothing.
To say that a book can exist for the sole purpose of having pretty words and to satisfy a Socialite’s desire to write incredibly lengthy monologues is absurd and I’m not even sure Wilde believes that himself.
I mean can you tell me that Harry and Basil’s disputes about Dorian aren’t an allegory for the constant battle between Good and Evil? God Vs Devil? They’re literally fighting for Dorian’s soul.
The book has a moral message because it condemns the Hedonistic lifestyle, that a life dedicated to pursuing momentary pleasures will only result in a life of unfulfillment and despair. Harry literally praises Dorian for never doing anything of worth in his entire life.
If Dorian Gray was poor, people would call him a waster.
Most of the characters worldview revolves entirely around Aestheticism. They refuse to discuss topics that are grim as they’re “Too Ugly” and they pursue relationships with people who satisfy their aesthetic niche- and then immediately cut ties with them when they lose their aesthetic purpose. Dorian breaks up with Sibyl because she had a lousy performance and he pretty much started ignoring Basil as soon as he finishes the portrait. Harry even admits that Basil doesn’t really have any reason to live anymore after the quality of his paintings starts to fall.
Wilde’s depiction of his own social class seems to present them as spoilt rotten melodramatic sociopaths that are about as relateable as a rapey seahorse.
If any of this was written deliberately with meaning in mind, it could almost be classified as a Satire.
In conclusion, The Picture of Dorian Gray had a lot of potential but it was skewered away by the authors skin deep worldview and an inability to structure a tangible story.
It accidentally makes the point that age is not just a physical change over time, but a mental one.
I have issues with almost all of Oscar Wilde’s stories, mainly because they all had the potential to be great but the author squandered it with a Deus ex machina or some over the top religious horse shit (I’m looking at you, Selfish Giant) that came out of nowhere.
However I have to respect his devotion to freedom of expression. A lot of people would have folded easily with the universal condemnation of critics- but Oscar stood his ground. You can’t deny he had balls.
It was an utter tragedy what happened to him. I know the preface shows us that Wilde detested critics going into detail about an artist’s biography but I think it’s worth discussing.
Five years after the Cleveland Street scandal, Oscar Wilde was outed as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensbury- John Douglas. The father of Alfred Douglas, who was having an affair with Oscar Wilde.
Queensbury initially outed Wilde by writing a note calling Oscar a Sodomite and placing it in the social club that Oscar was a part of. Wilde of course tried to sue him for Slander but Queensbury had proof that Wilde engaged in homosexual acts.
Queensbury hired Sir Edward Carson (that name should sound familiar, we discussed him briefly in my United Ireland article. He’s one of the founders of the UVF) as his Lawyer. He knew Oscar from their time together at Trinity college, so he initially turned down the case until he realised Queensbury was telling the truth.
Carson brought forward male prostitutes who confirmed that Wilde was Gay. In his court case narrative, Carson portrayed Oscar as some kind of demented perverts who seduced and abused young boys (Alfred Douglas was twenty-one when he met Oscar. He’s old enough to drink alcohol and old enough to be tried as an adult- but according to Carson he was too young to know whether or not he’d like to be Fucked in the ass) the trial ultimately bankrupted Oscar and he was sentenced to two years in prison where he was forced to do hard labour.
His time in prison was Awful. Living conditions were horrific and he caught Disentary. He grew to despise his former lover for condemning him to this life. He wrote a heart breaking loveletter called “De Profundis” which is Latin for “From the Depths” which upset Alfred Douglas so much that he burned his copy.
He spent the last five years of his life in Poverty, living in France in self imposed exile. His life was miserable. By publicly destroying his reputation, Carson had essentially Murdered Oscar Wilde.
But Oscar Wilde lives on through his work. Thousands of school children read the Importance of being Earnest every year, his plays are still being performed and he is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 19th century.
His pain in his later life reminds us of our own cruelty to one another, we should all strive to be a hell of a lot nicer to everyone and so long as you’re not hurting anyone you should be left in peace.
Although the West has made some staggering changes its important to recognise that this is not the case for the rest of the world. There are thousands if not millions of people like Oscar Wilde around the world who are suffering in silence.
By modern standards the Picture of Dorian Gray isn’t very controversial and maybe it’s not even very good. But it was undeniably important in establishing the need for freedom of expression, which we shouldn’t take for granted.
In conclusion; Fuck Queensbury and Fuck Carson.
If there’s a Hell, he’s in it.