Oscar Wilde was a fascinating man. He was called “the first counter-culture celebrity” by some and was essential at parties with his epigrams. It seems as if he wrote for fame and to make money as he once confessed that “writing bored him”. Because of the type of person Wilde was it is hard to tell what was merely a facade and what was true. This is in many parts repeated in his book “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.
What I love about the book is not the content or ideas. The part that makes the book good, in my opinion, is the beautiful language. No better way of displaying this by showing some parts of the book for you. In this text I will summarize my impressions of the book by some favorite quotations from it followed by a summary of each chapter.
“But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins” (p.7)
“I have Grown to love secrecy […] The commonest thing is delightful if only one hides it” (p.8)
“The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul” (p.10)
“Lord Henry […] plucked a pink-petaled daisy from the grass and examined it. ‘I am quite sure I shall understand it'” (p.10)
“I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects” (p.13)
“He is never more present in my work than when no image of him is there” (p.16) [Basil talking about Dorian]
“An artist should create beautiful things, but put nothing of his own life into them” (p.16)
“I have given away my whole soul to someone who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat” (p.17)
“The worst of having a romance […] is that it leaves one so unromantic” (p.18)
“We are punished for our refusals […] The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it” (p.25)
“I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die” (p.34)
“Punctuality is the thief of time” (p.54)
“A ‘grande passion’ is the privilege of people who have nothing to do” (p.59)
“She did not listen. She was free in her prison of passion” (p.73)
“I never approve or disapprove of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices” (p.87)
“The secret to remaining young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming” (p.99)
“One should absorb the colour of life but one should never remember its details” (p.118)
“The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died” (p.120)
“If one doesn’t talk about a thing it has never happened. It is simply expression, as Harry says, that gives reality to things” (p.126)
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them” (p.126)
“It had been all that art should be, unconscious, ideal, and remote” (p.133)
“You forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite” (p.175)
“Felt keenly the terrible pleasure of a double life” (p.202)
“Ugliness is one of the seven deadly virtues” (p.225)
“I wish it were stopped forever […] The whole thing is hideous and cruel” (p.233)
Ch. 1 – Basil & Lord Henry discuss art and Dorian Gray.
Ch. 2 – Harry transforms Dorian. Portrait is bewitched.
Ch. 3 – Harry finds out about Dorian Gray’s past. Big Dinner where Harry is the star.
Ch. 4 – Dorian Gray tells Harry about his new love: Sybil Vane.
Ch. 5 – Getting to know Sybil Vane, her brother and her mother.
Ch. 6 – Dorian tells about his engagement. Basil and Dorian have grown apart.
Ch. 7 – Sybil acts bad, Dorian breaks up with her. Portrait changes, a confused mind.
Ch. 8 – Decides to be good. Gets news about Sybil’s suicide, changes his mind.
Ch. 9 – Dorian callous and changed. Basil and Dorian discuss portrait. Dorian hides feelings.
Ch. 10 – Hides away the ugly parts of himself (portrait). Becomes more sinful (book).
Ch. 11 – Crazy monologue about how he sins and people change around him.
Ch. 12 – Basil confronts Dorian about his sins. Dorian shows his soul (portrait).
Ch. 13 – Revealing his soul to Basil makes Dorian kill him.
Ch. 14 – Entreats a friend, blackmails him to get rid of the body.
Ch. 15 – Goes to a boring party. Banter with Henry but sins eating him.
Ch. 16 – The lowest low. Describes his heroin trip. James almost kills Dorian.
Ch. 17 – Contrast with last chapter showing double-life. Visit at Duchess with many epigrams. Faints when seeing James.
Ch. 18 – A mess of emotions. Guilt feelings and scared of James. Man gets shot by accident on hunt.
Ch. 19 – Feeling bad about dead man, turns into joy when discovering it was James.
Ch. 20 – Realizes he can never change, acts of goodness were only hypocritical. Stabs the portrait with a knife resulting in a suicide.
[pic: CC-BY-NC-SA, poetas]