My first contact with this novel was through a short story by Neil Gaiman called “The Wedding Present” for our first-year English Studies class. The short story basically dealt with the concept of happiness and whether it really exists or if it was just an illusion of sorts. These type of stories always intrigued me, because I like anything that pierces other’s bubble of life-is-perfect-and-happy crap. Although it doesn’t directly deal with happiness per se, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is an excellent look at beauty and the price of vanity.
Wilde’s novel, first published in 1890, revolves around Dorian Gray, a beautiful young man with a deep dark secret. As time progresses, he stays beautifully young, while a portrait of him gains the marks and scars of age and his sins. Almost everyone who has heard of the book knows the basic storyline and knows the ultimate end that Dorian meets, but it’s not just about the price of vanity one man paid, but rather is a study of society and the importance people place on social standings, wealth and other factors that played a huge role in society at the time. Continue reading