Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Reviewed by Peyton Tastet

Have you ever made a deal with the devil? Dorian Gray, lead character of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, has. To achieve immortality and everlasting beauty, Gray sells his soul to the devil. The catch? His most beloved picture, the symbol of his beauty, his portrait, degrades into a corpse the worse of a person he becomes.

The book follows a character by the name of Dorian Gray, who is the subject of a portrait by a painter of some skill by the name of Basil Hallward. While sitting for his portrait, Gray listens in on the musings of Lord Henry Wotton, who takes a firm stance that the nature of life is hedonistic, and life should be explored for its pleasurable pursuits. Listening to Lord Henry puts Dorian under the impression that the aspect of life worth striving for is true beauty. Silently, he wishes to himself that his portrait would age rather than himself, so that he could always retain his beauty, a trait he is admired for amongst the other characters. What follows is a novel that delves into the depths of the human condition, analyzing the true value of external beauty and watching what happens to a human who is dedicated to its preservation at whatever costs.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel that was written almost 130 years ago. Yet, most of the time, I could barely tell. I must admit, the beginning few chapters start off slowly, but after Dorian Gray makes that deal with the devil, the book stops reading like an archaic novel and more like the script from an episode of The Young and the Restless. Filled with shocks and a thrilling view into the human psyche, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel that I would recommend to anyone who can drudge through a few slow chapters to be able to bite into the meat and bones of this book.

Peyton Tastet

Peyton Tastet was a senior at Hahnville High. Over his past four years, he has participated in band, theater, and student council, and each holds a special place in his heart. After high school, he plans to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he intends to study physics.

Editor’s note: Book reviews are published throughout the summer and fall in agreement with Hahnville High School gifted English teacher Deborah Unger in conjunction with the Brown Foundation Service Learning Program and Unger’s “Adolescents Advocate Literacy” Brown Service Learning Grant.

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