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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is written by Oscar Wilde and was published in 1890. The novel was not well received, so Wilde revised it by writing a preface and six other chapters. Now, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic of gothic fiction with an accentuated Faustian theme.

The novel tells the story of Dorian Gray, a beautiful and narcissistic man who is attracted by the idea of hedonism and lives his life in all kind of pleasures and sins. The interesting fact is that he never gets old or altered. Instead, his painted portrait becomes older and uglier in correspondence with his dark and sinful soul.

Plot Summary

Basil paints the portrait of Dorian Gray, a handsome young man to whose beauty he becomes infatuated with. Lord Henry, a decadent dandy takes advantage of Dorian`s naivety and presents him the idea of a lifestyle driven by hedonism. After the discussions with Lord Henry, Dorian starts thinking that the only valuable things in life are beauty and pleasure, so he wishes his portrait would become old in his place.

Dorian falls in love with Sibyl, an actress, but as his narcissistic thoughts grow, he rejects her. The young innocent girl commits suicide and her brother, James, blames Dorian for her death. During this unfortunate event, Dorian sees the portrait changing. It seems that his biggest wish has became reality and the portrait will age instead of him with each sin he makes.

18 years later, Dorian is still young and handsome, but has a life full of vices. When Basil questions his lifestyle, Dorian shows him the hideous painting, the proof of all his sins. After he blames Basil for his fate, Dorian kills him and gets rid of the body. James sees him unchanged after all these years and decides to kill him, but he gets murdered first.

Because of his relationship with innocent Hetty, Dorian wants to become good and more again. Even if he tries to change, the portrait remains hideous. In an attempt to destroy his guilty consciousness, Dorian stabs the painting. His dead body is found aged and with a knife in his heart, while the portrait shows him young and handsome.


The main themes of The Picture of Dorian Gray are double life, hedonism, influence, sin and consciousness.

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