Bookish · reviews

the picture of dorian gray: book review

i am still not over this book.

today i will be reviewing my new favourite book – it’s by oscar wilde (the one and only). and i only started reading it because it was by oscar wilde. 😁

where do i even start? once i started reading this book, the writing style had me hooked – the beautiful writing, the flowery language, the big fancy words i couldn’t understand, the aestheticism, the well-phrased epigrams, that had me wondering and staring off into space. and i couldn’t stop thinking about this book. (it’s been a month 🙂

i think the picture of dorian gray is a must read for everyone, but especially for fans of philosophy and books with a lil’ hint of spirituality. but the writing, wow. it’s indescribable. enchanting. literally, i’ve annotated so much in this book.


Lord Henry Wotton makes Dorian Gray believe that the only thing important in life is beauty. However, Dorian realizes that he will become less beautiful as he grows older. He wishes the portrait Basil painted would become old in his place. Dorian then sells his soul to the devil – to be youthful, and beautiful forever.

Oscar Wilde’s only novel is the dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.🤎

A beautiful young man named Dorian catches the eye of an artist, Basil, who insists on painting him. Dorian poses for him, several times in various occasions. When Basil decides to paint a raw portrait of him, the artist captures a secret of his own soul on the canvas. When Basil’s friend Henry questions why he is unwilling to showcase a portrait that may be his greatest work, leading him to develop an interest in impressionable young Dorian himself, the artist tries to prevent their meeting, worried of the influence Henry has on others, worrying that it will have an effect on Dorian.

Within the course of a single meeting, Henry places such thoughts in Dorian’s head about the value of youth and beauty – that the young man becomes jealous of the painting of himself, which will retain its looks forever while he becomes more ugly. In a spur, he wishes aloud that the situation could be reversed.

To his surprise, that wish is granted. But it is not only age that begins to change that painted face. With every cruel and selfish act that he commits, whether through Henry’s influence or the hedonism within him, that makes him give in to his temptations, the portrait shows his sins.

“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”

~the characters~

Dorian Gray:

I absolutely loved his character!✨ I hated how it changed throughout the book, and how corrupt he became. Overall, the complexity, and the moral transformation, all because of how easily influenceable Dorian was, was interesting. He made some incredibly questionable choices and acts throughout, but I felt for Dorian all along the book.

“He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul.”

Lord Henry:

ugh- this guy. His monologues range from wise to incredibly stupid. Most of them don’t even make any sense to me.😶 um, anyway. I just really hate him. But I have to say, he has beautiful language – and quotable lines. The way he perceives things, and the way he talks about his theories and philosophies had me so involved. It’s just his lack of common sense that annoys me, and the influence he was on the naïve Dorian Gray. There are so many quotes of his, it’s soo hard to pick just one.

“Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”

Basil Hallward:

Basil is a talented painter, and friend of Lord Henry. He feels that Dorian has influenced his art, and describes his liking towards Dorian as ‘idoltary’.👀 (we all know it aint) Gosh, Basil is one of my favourites. I disliked him at the beginning due to his people-pleaser attitude, but I grew to really like Basil.

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.”

the plot itself is so simple, and every page is so wonderfully written that makes it so hard to stop reading. and once you finish it, it takes some time to process all that happens, and just leaves you in awe. ✨

what i love is that most of the epigrams apply to daily life as well. it’s a combination of realism, morality, aestheticism and hedonism. it’s all values of life told through a different perspective. i have nothing to dislike about this book, except for some parts that were outdated.

“The aim of life is self-development. To realise one’s nature perfectly-that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self.”

thank you so much for reading!💕 i hope you enjoyed. let me know if you’ve read this book, or if you’re planning to! (i would 100% recommend that)


16 thoughts on “the picture of dorian gray: book review

  1. I first read this book when I was about 13. We didn’t even know homosexuality existed! I thought when he talked about ‘loving’ another man, it must be ‘old-fashioned’ English. I reread it in my 30s. I then understood what it was really about. Later I read it once more in my 50s when I was amazed at Wilde’s clever use of language.
    Good read young lady!! Muriel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s expressed subtly. That’s because Oscar Wilde’s original version was censored – as homosexuality was considered a “crime” in the Victorian era..
      yes, the way it’s written is so clever! That’s really what makes it one of my favourite books. Thanks for reading!


  2. i need to read this book – it sounds so interesting! i love books with the kind of quotes that stick with you, and this feels like one of those books. also, i feel like this book is the ✨embodiment✨ of dark academia aesthetic. your blog fits that aesthetic too and im OBSESSED

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh yes. that’s a perfect way to describe it! omg yes this is fr a dark academia book. another reason i loved this so much.
      it’s also one of those books you’ll be thinking of from time to time, and makes you cry every time you think of it. (speaking from experience xD)
      AHH thank you!! that is a huge compliment 😀 i love dark academiaaa

      Liked by 1 person

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