A&E: Panou’s Paper Panel


In spite of all of his overburdening ambitions and his pompous approach to writing, Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is by far one of the most fascinating works ever made. Published in 1890, the Gothic novella was instantly controversial among critics and in Victorian England. To the chaste Londoners, this work of Victorian horror left a distaste in the mouth of many. Yet through the years of countless movie adaptations and reworks of the original manuscript, Wilde’s work has been revitalized and molded, changing in many ways.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” follows Dorian Gray, a decadent and frivolous character in north London. He makes friends with two other men – Lord Henry and Basil Hallwart – who introduce him to the luxurious side of life. Basil, a moralist, is captivated by Gray’s beauty. Lord Henry is a character not defined by any set of morals but whose influence slowly corrupts Gray and turns him into a twisted predator in London’s dark nightlife.

Aesthetics, the philosophy of art, is often considered to be the framework of the soul. Gothic aestheticism is an exploration of the deep torturous horrors of the supernatural and is a psychological discovery in the evils of the unconscious mind. Wilde’s aestheticism, however, represents the Gothic paradox: there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Gothicism represents a moral contrast between good and evil. As Wilde writes in the preface of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” morality is a construct.

The bottom line is that Dorian Gray is a man tortured by his waning youth. It is his pure and chaste likeness that is kept in the fabric of an aging portrait that rots his aching mind. His soul, his very vibrance and energy, is contrasted in a reality between what is art and what is life. Taking from Socrates’s aestheticism, this representation of art in Wilde’s work portrays a holy and spiritual connection between that of the art and the artist.

Unfortunately, this novella can be boring in a variety of ways. While Wilde’s tone and decadent writing style is interesting and keeps the reader captivated just enough to get to the end of the book, only a select few events are entertaining. What redeems this novel is its beauty and the success it has in its portrayal of the death of brilliance. Be warned, this read is complicated. Its rewards may vary and any side effects are caused by its lasting radiance.