Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

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I instantly warmed to the plush-lipped youth depicted in the pre Sibyl Vain era of Dorian’s life. His inability to see himself through the eyes of others alluded to a boyish charm that sparked the inevitable attraction of others; which, tragically so, was the catalyst for his demise.

Shown the merit of his own reflection through the adoration and skill of painter Basil Hallward, Dorian allows himself to be nurtured by a sociopathic spectator, Lord Henry Wooton, embracing a new-found confidence in owning the pleasures of life and art. This soon transpires in to a vulgar obsession to maintain his place on the pedestal upon which others put him.

Hastily developing a hedonistic mind-set that would over shadow his very exisitence, he begins to value beauty over substance. After selling his soul for enternal youth, the consequences of such an act began to manisfest inside Basil’s painting.

Though he’d long but traded his innocence for lust and luxury, his relations with Sibyl Vain was a cornerstone, or more a tombstone, for my opinion on Dorian. Subconciously wishing to make her his trophy wife, as he had learned was the way of life from Lord Henry, he convinces himself he is in love, that he has fallen and that romance triumphs all. This whirlwind, of course, was concluded by the first exhibition of his inability to separate his reality from that which was expected of him.

Lord Henry Wotton’s agressive disdain for womankind was a prevelant theme throughout:

“My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.” 

Influenced by such company, it is no wonder he thought Sibyl had something to prove, that her talents would and must win over his male counterparts. The embarassment he felt when she had not lived up to Lord Henry and Basil Hallward’s expectations ironically relfected the despair he was yet to experience when his very core did not live up to its relection.

“You used to stir my imagination, now you don’t even stir my curiosity…I loved you because you were marvellous, because you had genius and intellect, you realised the dreams of great poets and gave substance to the shadows of art…you have spoiled the romance of my life…without your art you are nothing…what are you now? A third rate actress with a pretty face.” -Dorian Gray

 

The conception of his brief affair with Sibyl, to me, symoblised Dorian flirting with the idea of rebelling against corruption. Marred by misrepresenting beauty for art, it became the final nail in the coffin for his humanity.

From then on, Wilde’s whimsical prose tells the tale of a man progressing through life enthralled in a state of selfish luxury. Through beautifully constructed dialogue, the hands of its moral compass jolt frantically in every direction as the desires of three, very different men play out, and Dorian glides in and out of his double life outwardly unscathed by his sins.

The book subtly paid homage to Wilde’s sexuality, most clearly to me through Basil Hallward’s infactuation with his muse. Oscar Wilde is quoted to have said:

“Basil Hayward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.” – Oscar Wilde

I find it difficult, even after finishing the book, to judge what he could of meant by this in likening himself to these three contrasting characters.

Basil is a man morally reserved to his art, seldom weidling to human impulse. Lord Henry, a vindicitve purist, objectifys Dorian, moulding him into a social experiment for his own ammusement. Dorian becomes unashamedly obessed with pleasure of all forms – though evil as he may become, he is no-longer worried about being socially accepted.

Could it be that, in less dramatic terms, the three characters mirrored, in stages, the shift of acceptance that Wilde felt, and predicted to feel about embracing his own percieved ‘vice’.

To be Dorian is to be several things at once; on the outside he is beautiful and pure, on the inside he is evil and hideous. In body, he is a man who walks, talks, lives and breathes. In spirit he is a distorted reflection on decaying canvas.

 

 

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You, a grown adult, are afraid of the dark. Explain why this is a legitimate concern, so friends won’t laugh at you.

The great unknown, more often than not, is far less wondrous than it is portrayed to be in books, and in films. Take the ocean as an example; vast masses of water suffocating the earths surface, home to bloodthirsty beasts and uncertainty.

Manipulated by the elements it sends lashings of waves that cause chaos and destruction. Tearing down ships and homes, claiming land and lives it does not own. I find it bizarre to romantacise such a thing.

It’s like this, picture you’re treading water a quarter of a mile offshore when suddenly a wave washes over you, taking you under. You resist, but it’s stronger than you and that’s something you can’t control. Each movement you take to fight against the current draws the breath from your lungs, rendering you powerless. You can’t scream underwater. No one can hear your cries for help. What’s next from there is unknown to you. All you can be sure of is that there will be darkness. That’s how I feel when darkness consumes me, like I’m drowning in the unknown.

It’s like driving into the night on a path lined with broken street lamps, unaware of the road ahead of you. You could be driving off the edge of a cliff for all you’re sure of. Or walking through a deserted park when the sun has set, no stars from which to seek relief; no light to guide your way. Though situations may differ, what the darkness imposes, what it takes from you, remains the same.

I oppose not only what it does to the senses, but what it does to the mind. The places it can take you, past, present or even future. The unknown; it’s where anxiety lives, where fear culminates. It darkness, it is drowning, it consumes.

To me, the dark and the depths of the ocean are one in the same. When you’re draped in darkness, you could be anywhere, no matter if it’s in your mind or not, for you can’t see any different. Be it the bottom of the sea or the edge of a cliff, these places they feed on vulnerability, and you’re never more vulnerable than when immersed in darkness.

Think of your greatest fear, how would that scene play out? Where did it take you? Did it end darkness? It always does.

Now all that considered, do you blame me?

Prompt #4: You, a grown adult, are afraid of the dark. Explain why this is a legitimate concern, so friends won’t laugh at you.

 

Write a poem about a tomato

 

What you are, I can’t decide;

Your very core, concealed inside,

Skin so thick, as nature made so;

Where do you fit? Not even you know.

Your seed bears life, yet instead it is savoured;

Bound by ties and restraints? Consider them wavered.

For why tick the box, when there are circles and stars?

Just as boys play with dolls, girls like guitars.

No bother then, if you are fruit or foe;

You taste good to me, and that’s all there is to know.

 

tomato-heart.jpgPrompt #3: Write a poem about a tomato

Describe a room in your house

There was not much wrong with the room aesthetically; just that it was cold and bare. The walls, despite being shiny in places from the omniscient glow of a nearing light bulb, were empty. Never adorned with any pictures or posters they were untouched by ornaments and character. There was however, a single nail hanging out of the largest wall, as if it once wore life before its dormant state.

In an attempt to brighten the place up there was a small, single palm tree placed on an iron table in the corner of the room. In actual fact it gave off quite the opposite effect. It wore crisp, browning leaves that wept whilst its body bent at a curve in search of sunlight. Isolated and starved it sat there, far from appeasing its intention but beautiful in its irony.
The furniture shared the same sense of solitude; just two odd fabric settees. One was stripped of it’s cover and backed tight against a wall, and the other cloaked in brown separating the dining area. Neither were pristine enough to look too uninviting, nor were they worn to the degree in which they looked comfortable. The carpet below was speckled in such a way that gave it no dominant colour, made up of patches of beige and grey. It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t offensive. It was warm beneath my feet, and cushioned just so that the floorboards beneath did not creak under pressure.

By day, the light the tree longed for peaked through the patio doors, framed by thin white voiles that fell softly at each side. Opening outwards to the world outside the doors relinquished an element of sadness sometimes felt when sitting in a room so small and empty. It may not have been much, but it was home.

Prompt #1: Describe a room in your house

642 things to write about

Recently I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired when it comes to writing. Excluding reviewing the odd EP or interviewing a few artists, I don’t remember the last time I sat down to write for fun, or just for me.  It’s something I’ve been moaning about for quite some time now without actively doing anything positive to change it, until now.

After hearing me whine on for months, for Christmas my other half bought me an incredible book to rekindle my desire to write for enjoyment . Written by the San Francisco Writers’ grotto the book is called ‘642 Things to Write About‘ and contains, well you guessed it – 642 things to write about.

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Having flicked through and cast my first impressions what I like most about this book is how nonrestrictive each of the topics are. Some are serious while others are silly. None seem particularly demanding and they all do well to provoke different thoughts from varied perspectives. This is why I’ve decided to give it a go and will be sharing each piece on this blog, along with anything else that inspires me to write.

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I’m setting myself the challenge of writing two small pieces a week, or one big one if that’s where my ideas take me.

Feel free to write me with any feedback you may have, or if you would like to share anything similar you’re doing with me. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and I hope you stumble across something you enjoy.