Archive Nostalgia: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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As Halloween creeps ever closer, I have dug up my spookiest book review from the archival crypt…

Rating: Red StarRed StarRed Star

Category: Classics

Synopsis: Dorian Gray is a beautiful, striking young man – the darling of London society. When a friend paints his uncannily lifelike portrait, Dorian is struck by a moment of vanity and fear. In terror of age and degradation, he strikes a bargain that will allow him to remain in youthful beauty forever. Only the cherished portrait will bear the marks of age, excess and sin.


First Impressions

I wanted to read The Picture of Dorian Gray because it is such an enduring cultural myth, referenced in everything from theatre to pop songs. My only previous experience of Wilde has been reading and watching The Importance of Being Earnest (read my theatre review here).

It became immediately apparent that Dorian Gray is much, much darker than the playful comedy of Earnest. Reading about Dorian’s descent into immorality is as disturbing as it is hypnotic. Nevertheless, the novel still boasts a plethora of the witty quotes that are Wilde’s signature. Although they are often placed in a more shocking context, they still made me smile despite myself!

Book Review The Picture of Dorian Gray Pinterest Graphic


In line with Wilde’s concerns with the superficiality of society, the characters of the novel live behind a facade and rarely demonstrate true emotions. Even though this made them difficult to relate to, it did not prevent me from wanting to know what would happen to them with a kind of morbid curiosity!

Many of the dilemmas they face still remain relevant and fascinating today – how much are we for others and how much for ourselves?

Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray Quote

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The Picture of Dorian Gray is full of rich, sensuous descriptions that lend it a very Gothic feel. In particular, the middle chapters are dripping with such descriptions, which add to the suffocating atmosphere but make the pace a little slow.

In spite of the slow build-up, I thoroughly enjoyed the surprising ending (no spoilers I promise!) It initially makes the story seem like a straightforward moral but anyone who has read anything about Wilde will know that his intentions were far too complex for this to be the case! Instead, I was left pondering how much Dorian is a product of society or nature, and at what point exactly does he go wrong?

Favourite quote:

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

Read if: you are intrigued by a murky exploration of human duty versus desire.

Buy Now on Better World Books:

Red Arrow The Picture of Dorian Gray Red Arrow

Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray or anything else by Oscar Wilde? What did you think? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!


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8 thoughts on “Archive Nostalgia: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde”

  1. “Reading about Dorian’s descent into immorality is as disturbing as it is hypnotic.” OOOOOHHHH!! 😱😱😱❤️ You have got me intrigued! 😱😱😍😍

    Ohh! So that quote is from THIS ONEE!! 😍 I love it soo much!

    This is THE BEST and MOST thorough review I have read of Dorian Gray!! Its on my tbr an I LOVED READING YOUR TAKE ON THE BOOK! ❤️😍😍😍😍

    AMAZING POST, MP!! I am sooo glad you dug this review up from the archives! ❤️😍😍😘😘💕👻☔️🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank youuuu!!! Your comments never fail to make me smile ❤️ Dorian Gray is so unique, it can be a little slow at times but is well worth persevering with. It’s really rather dark too, but I guess that’s perfect for Halloween! I hope you enjoy it, when you get round to reading it I’d love to know what you think X x x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awwww!! I am sooo glad!! 😍😍❤️ Because your posts NEVER fail to impress me! 😍😍❤️❤️ Sooo much love for the way you write! ❤️❤️💕

        Sureee!! I will definitely review it once I read it! ❤️❤️😊😊💕💕

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t really read many classics – I seem to always end up picking up newer releases instead – but I do want to try and read some sometime and recently added several to my TBR. I somehow forgot this one though although it does sound intriguing. And I’ve always found the character interesting when they appear in other tv shows and also in the film version. I’ll have to check this one out somehow too (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment Charlotte! I’d definitely recommend Dorian Gray if you’re looking for a classic with a fascinating central character. As long as you don’t mind something quite dark – but I guess it’s perfect for Halloween!!! X x x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading classics but I haven’t read this one yet. I realised it was a dark and possibly disturbing novel after reading a paradoy book called ‘The Picture of Dorian Greyhound’, it’s like a picture book for adults but has some very dark and horrible illustrations towards the ending. But your review has made me so much more intrigued, I’m definitely going to read this and hopefully soon. Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, I really appreciate it! That parody sounds pretty funny – it’s certainly dark (which was a bit of a shock to me after reading Wilde’s lighter plays) but very intriguing too. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear what you think! X x x

      Liked by 1 person

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