The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of the best novels for displaying the consequences of immortality, pride, and corruption. I was first introduced to the novel by the LDS apostle Sterling W. Sill in his book The Majesty of Books, which is a book on my top ten favorites list.
Dorian Gray is a young man blessed with good looks and pliable youthfulness which attracts the attention of Lord Henry, a man who is a classic representation of the devil. Dorian gets his portrait painted and what he doesn’t realize at the time is that it is a painting of his soul.
Dorian, with the help and influence of Lord Henry, lived a sinful lifestyle with his chief aim at seeking pleasure at any expense. He corrupted young women staining their reputations. When one leads such a debaucherous lifestyle it starts to show in one’s body. The effects of smoking, alcohol, late nights and blatant disrespect for oneself and others begins to age one prematurely, it shows is one’s countenance, it begins to change you. But, not so with Dorian. His discovery of what was happening to the portrait of himself horrified him. All of his lifestyle and corruption was changing the portrait, not the man. He looked as innocent as he started which often caused people to question if his behavior was just rumors. He hid the portrait away and had it covered with a cloth and hid it the attic. He didn’t want anyone to know what was happening or to see this hideous, foul representation of himself.
He doesn’t change his lifestyle, however, and the consequences catch up to him in many ways. It is a powerful story, a powerful read. As I read it and knowing how Wilde lived, I wonder how autobiographical this story is.
I will close with Sterling W. Sill’s words, “It is the divinity within that makes the divinity without.” “A good appearance is better than all of the letters of reference in the world.” (Dorian Gray) “In the final test our souls will not be able to keep anything secret, and as the picture of Dorian Gray was its own most accurate letter of reference, so it will be when we come to stand before God. For in a very important way, the story of Dorian Gray is the story of every man.”