Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray
This philosophical novel is discussing conflict between hedonism and aestheticism, morality and corruption.
Story began at Dorian's aunt's London house where the well-known artist Basil Hallward is completing the latest portrait of young Dorian. He admitted to his friend Lord Henry Wotton, the painting disappoints him because it reveals too much of his feelings for his subject. Lord Henry claimed that the portrait is a masterpiece and proceeded to corrupt Dorian with a speech about the transient nature of beauty and youth. Dorian in a fit of distress cursed his portrait, pledged his soul for the painting to bear the burden of age, allowing him to stay forever young. Dorian fell in love with Sibyl Vane, a young actress who performed in a theater in London’s slums. He adored her acting, she, overcome by her emotions for Dorian, decided that she can no longer act due to the love for Dorian. Dorian loved her only because of her acting thus cruelly breaking his engagement with her. Upon his return to his home he noticed that his face in portrait had changed with a sneer. Frightened that his wish came true and that his sins will be recorded on the canvas, he resolved to make amends with Sibyl but she already hanged herself. At this he hid the portrait in an attic, where no one can watch its transformation. Lord Henry gave Dorian a book that describes the wicked exploits of a nineteenth-century Frenchman which became Dorian’s bible as he sunk ever deeper into a life of sin and corruption. 18 years had passed in which Dorian totally disregarded conventional standards of morality or the consequences of his actions. His reputation suffered in circles of polite London society due to the rumors of his scandalous exploits and the figure in the painting grew increasingly hideous. One night Basil confronted him about these rumors and in the fit of rage Dorian stabbed him. Same night Dorian made his way to his favorite opium den where he encountered James, Sibyl’s brother, who wanted to avenge her death. Dorian, wracked by fear and guilt, escaped to his country estate where a hunting party accidentally shot James. Dorian resolved to amend his life though in a fury, he attempted to destroy the painting but instead ended lying on the floor with the knife in the heart whereas the portrait reversed itself to the previous beauty.