Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really wanted to give this 5 stars.

The first half of the story was great, out of everything I enjoyed reading the aphorisms of Harry. He is a despicable character, but some of the things he says does have some merit to them. While the other half of the things he says are just complete fallacies, and have no ground in reality. I've never felt an author agree and disagree simultaneously so strongly with his own character. I could really pick up on the aphorisms that Oscar Wilde agreed with, and the ones which he used to mock Harry.

Even I had difficulty resisting Harry's arguments, it took me a while to discover all the flaws and holes in many of them.

Watching Dorian's character change in the first half was fascinating (uh oh, I hope that doesn't make me sound like Harry). While Harry really did influence Dorian, you have to wonder how much of Dorian was already so vain.

The reason I didn't give this a full 5 stars is because of everything after chapter 10. Chapter 11 was kind of boring, filled with explanations of all the hobbies Dorian pursued over the years in his pursuit of pleasure. I understood the point after the first example, but after about 4-5 times it got tedious. There were many more unnecessary descriptions in the last half of the book, whereas the first half was filled with great character development. The last half just felt much slower. It sped back up again in the last two chapters, and the ending felt a little anticlimactic, but suited.

Anyone that doesn't know Oscar Wilde would assume that he abhors the extreme aestheticism that Harry and Dorian worships. Ironically, Wilde himself is actually an aesthete.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a warning from Wilde to not pursue the hedonist lifestyle in excess. While it's okay to appreciate beautiful things, seeking only beauty will lead to a shallow, vain, and immoral life.

I would pop in a quote from the book, but there are just so many great quotes in the novel that I'm honestly too overwhelmed to open the book again.

EDIT: Okay. I've had some time to think, and I think the best quote I can throw in here is this:
'I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices.'
This is a warning to all readers that wish to read this book.

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