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The Picture of Dorian Gray – Mirror reflecting the soul

Dorian Gray

“The picture of Dorian Gray” is the only novel by Oscar Wilde and is one of the most influential works in Western literature, about a young man as pure as a white rose who sold his soul to keep the youth forever.

“The picture of Dorian Gray” has been reprinted several times, has been adapted into a film, inspiring many comic books, songs, musicals and poetry. Even Dorian Gray is also used as a term to call the old age fear syndrome and love the perfection of the appearance.

So, let’s see why this novel became phenomenal and controversial in English literature at that time.

Prayer or curse?

Set in Victorian England, the story tells the life of nobleman Dorian Gray has perfect beauty, in a relationship with painter Basil Hallward and aristocrat Henry Wotton.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

With a passion that is almost adoring the beautiful appearance of Dorian, genius painter Basil spent all his heart and love sincerely to paint an extremely vivid portrait. On the other hand, after a few conversations with Henry Wotton, slowly being deeply influenced by hustle and bustle, Dorian realized that one day, beauty would fade, so standing in front of Basil’s painting, he wished that he will keep his youth no matter what. The strange thing happened, eighteen years later, the beauty of Dorian Gray still has not been eroded by time, but the portrait is increasingly devastated and deformed. To protect this secret, Dorian executed his fiancée, killing Basil. He slid down the path of depravity … until he longed for reimbursement to free his torments.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” exploits the familiar motif “contract with the devil” and is heavily influenced by “Faust” by Goethe. But in a dreamy, romantic style with the way Oscar Wilde plays with words, the work becomes an art of direct beauty right from the letter.

“Art is a mirror that reflects the viewer” – Oscar Wilde

Dorian Gray and the portrait of Basil painted him both embodiment of beauty.

Dorian is physical beauty and his portrait paints him an artistic beauty. Tragedy occurs when physical beauty suddenly realizes that she is not as permanent as the beauty of art and makes a trade-off, despite the art’s destruction. Dorian had a beautiful and everlasting youth, but he had not resisted the instinct of the flesh, of pleasure, of the worst aspects of his soul, and each of his crimes left a mark. press on the picture.

Basil is an artist in pursuit of beauty, he puts his whole self and even his sincere love into art to create a beautiful work.

Henry represents extreme satire towards people and contemporary society. The cunning and cunning guy. He spoke boldly and arrogantly, all exposing the naked truth of Victorian emptiness and hedonism – the society that tainted the soul as pure as the rose of Dorian Gray.

And what does the Dorian painting represent?

The question lingers as the last page of each reader’s book is closed. Anxiety about art, about beauty, about human status. Each person will have a different explanation.

In 1890, when the work was released to the public in an incomplete version due to censorship, the author was subjected to terrible wrath from contemporary critics. The novel was said to violate social morality by having an element of gay love, at that time in England was a kind of criminal crime.

In 1891, Oscar Wilde printed into a full-text book and wrote the preface as an art manifesto fiercely defended his work from the public opinion of England. Time has proven the artistic value and the enduring vitality of “The picture of Dorian Gray” in world culture.

About Oscar Wilde’s life

Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) was a famous Irish poet, writer, and playwright.

He was born in Ireland, but mainly studied and lived in England under the Victorian era – a turbulent era. Although the surface of society has shifted from aristocratic to popular, from upper-class to popular, the Puritan traditions still dominate and strangle those who dare to go against it. Oscar Wilde is a man who goes against that ethical tradition. He has a disposition, and more than that, he has no intention of concealing his identity.

Oscar Wilde

In 1885, Oscar Wilde was sentenced to hard labor under the contemporary act. After he was released, he settled in France and died there.

Oscar Wilde’s life is full of ups and downs and traumatic, but his literary career is quite successful. He left behind a novel, nine plays, along with many poems, short stories and essays. His works are translated into many languages ​​and widely published in the world.


Catholic Sensationalism and Victorian Literature [1st ed]


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