“If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that–for that–I would give everything!”
For a book over one hundred years old, I found the story to have not grown stale whatsoever. The times are different. The clothes, knickknacks, and mannerisms are not of this age. But the story, the people, the sin that eats away at Dorian Gray is as old as time.
I was first introduced to Dorian Gray as a character through the movie “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Not a fantastic fild, mind you, though the graphic novel is infinitely more in-depth. Still, it was here that I first learned of Dorian Gray, and his superpower of never growing old. And that is the story on a superficial level. A story of a man whose portrait ages while he remains indefinitely handsome.
But beauty is only skin deep.
Dorian Gray’s descent into debauchery, into the shadow of life is told through the rumors spread about him and through his own eyes. How he breaks a young woman’s heart so that she ends her own life. How Dorian Gray ends his friend’s life in an act of rage. Of the burnt bridges and burnt out relations. Through it all, Dorian remains unchanged in the outside. Only his picture, hidden away, shows the damage to his soul.
If we could see our souls eaten away by our wrongdoings, how would we act? Dorian Gray tried to change in the end. But by then it was too late.
The ending is what gets me. Like all the deaths told in this book–the suicides, the murders–Dorian’s demise is told I the same matter-of-fact manner. Reported with little emotion. For why should Dorian Gray have emotion when he has destroyed his own soul?