Overview

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, published in 1890, stands as a classic exploration of morality and the consequences of unchecked desires. Set in late 19th-century London, the novel follows the life of Dorian Gray, a young man enthralled by the hedonistic ideals of of a man called Lord Henry. The story takes a dark turn when Dorian wishes for his portrait to age instead of him, leading to a disturbing revelation of the moral decay resulting from his indulgent lifestyle. Wilde’s critique of Victorian society, the duality of human nature, and the allure of aestheticism invites readers to reflect on the consequences of pursuing pleasure without regard for ethical boundaries.

Historically, The Picture of Dorian Gray faced controversy for its perceived immorality upon its initial publication. However, over time, it has become a celebrated work known for its wit, social commentary, and investigation of philosophical themes. The novel’s enduring significance lies in its ability to provoke thought about the superficial nature of societal judgments and the consequences of surrendering to one’s baser instincts.

Adaptations of The Picture of Dorian Gray have taken various forms, with a well-made 1945 film directed by Albert Lewin being a notable example. These adaptations continue to explore the timeless themes of Wilde’s novel, demonstrating its enduring relevance and impact on literature and popular culture.

Read the full book summary, an in-depth character analysis of Dorian Gray, and explanations of important quotes from The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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