Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I just finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This book goes to the top of the list among my favorite books. It is surprisingly short but it gives the reader much to ponder.

The story starts with Dorian Gray having his portrait painted by the artist, Basil Hallward. The work of art perfectly captures Dorian's beauty and youth and all present are captivated by it. Dorian's friend, Lord Henry Wotton, mentions that the painting will always stay young and fresh while Dorian's body and soul will age and eventually die. Somehow, as time progresses, the painting's image reflects the changes in Dorian's inner-man while Dorian's physical appearance stays the same for many years.

I would say that the central theme of the book is sin and it's relationship to the corruption of man, both physical and mental. As Dorian's advances through life he exposes himself to immorality and he becomes increasingly flagrant in his disregard for doing right and respecting people. At first, he is able to rationalize his behavior and it's effect on people but as time progresses this becomes more and more difficult for him.

I find this to be the same in life. A person cannot expect to repeatedly expose himself to corrupting influences and never be affected by them. The choices we make change our inner-man as well as the people around us. Is we continue in a corrupt lifestyle, the ability to find inner peace decreases, we find ourselves needing to add things to our lives that allow us to forget how we feel inside. It becomes impossible to realistically consider our actions and motives because they are so base and we cannot handle gazing on them for very long.

Like I said, The Picture of Dorian Gray was a great read but it is also an interesting analysis of many ideas including (but not limited to!): sin and the corruption of man, friendship with fools, self-centeredness, and rationalization of sin.

Happy reading!