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Blues Improvisation
Blues Improv

Oscar Wilde, Author of A Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Review By Liat Mayer

The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by Oscar Wilde in the late 1800’s, reflects and comments on society holding true until today.   By focusing on the actions of a very egocentrical character who thinks he can do whatever he wants because he is beautiful, Wilde highlights the things that are wrong in our society.  Wilde’s main problem is people’s vanity, and hook up on ‘beauty’.  He brings his message through three differnet places in the books structure: one through how people see Dorian, another how dorian sees himself, and third what ultimately happens to Dorian.

We are first introduced to the main character throung Basic Hallward, the enchanted painter who fell in love with Dorian at first site.  He describes the effects of this young man on him to his  curious friend Lord Henry.  As Lord Henry insists that beauty is best-youth is the one thing worthwhile having, we are pulled in to what a beautiful person, in the eyes of society, gets.  With all of Henry’s talk, Dorian’s ego is pumped very big and it is easy to see how life must be easy and good for the beautiful.  The way the english society sees the beautiful as something special and something extra-ordanary highlights the vanity that is so important still today.

Dorian, who believes everything Henry tells him, wishes to stay forever young-and let his picture take age.  Unfortunately for him, his wish is granted, and with out being completely aware of consequence, he dives right in to fame, fortune, sex, and drugs.  Dorian realized that his use of his beauty if wrong only through the conciousness that is shown on his aging picture.  The guilt and shame of the things that he id doing and the person he is becoming does not stop him because he still strongly believes that his beauty wins over heart as well as soul.   Wilde does not let us get away with that though-Dorians stabbing of the picture proves that the soul, the subconcious or whatever, wins.

Dorian’s ultimate downfall is a kind of a wake up call that Wilde is trying to get across to his reader’s.  He is criticizing what he sees and warning against man’s ego blinding man.  It is as though, through the years that pass where Dorian remains young and beautifull, but is part of evil his beauty loses its brightness.  This is only felt through how the book is written, but towards the end the bad hidden behind the mask of good gets boring-it grows lame, and Wilde uses this as a good breaking point for Dorian to come up against himself to face who  he has become.  The painting is absolutely disgusting, it being so hard for Dorian to look at.  The character has become so not nice, so unenchanting, and all with the most beautiful face

In conclusion, Oscar Wilde’s commentary of his society- and the path that man was choosing to take, is also a good lesson for our society to learn.  Today, we are only much farther down on that shallow road.  With technology and the modern media, it is even easier to be influenced by what mtv sais a girl should weigh, or how the lifeguard on bay watch looks.  The music, television, movie, magazine, clothes, and advertisement industries rely on an image to sell.  The high rate of eating disorders and self esteem of many people throughout the world is not a thing to brush asside in the debate of what is beautiful.  Though it seems that Wilde sais that there is a beauty, which the artist creates, and there also exists and ugly,   it is in the eye of the beholder that the deeper meaning of a thing will be decided.  The fate of beauty, is in the hands of the masses.

Liat Mayer is a 11th grade at Academia Music School, Jerusalem, Israel

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