Commento The painter's studio
The passage constitutes the opening of the novel The picture of Dorian Gray. The painter ,Basil Hallward ,just finished the portrait of a young Londoner of particular beauty, Dorian Gray, and the picture is still found on an easel in his studio. At this point Basil receives the visit of the friend Lord Henry Wotton, which, seeing the painting, stays struck by the extraordinary beauty of the work and of the young that is the subject of it, and he starts a vivacious conversation with the painter on the theme of the work. In the passage is reported a conversation that takes place among the two . The passage is composed of two parts. The first part deals with the description of the studio of Basil that serves as background to the conversation. It reflects the typical taste of the decadents for detail: the setting is incredibly well described, we could succeed in drawing it if we will try to and the window represents the connection between the garden and the room. Thanks to this description, in which all the feelings are involved, Oscar Wilde conveys an atmosphere sensuous and decadent. Finished the description, starts the second part of the passage, that contains the dialogue between Hallward and Lord Wotton: Lord Henry celebrates the job completed and invites the painter to exhibit the picture in the gallery of Grosvenor, with the purpose to gain notoriety. Basil affirms not to want that the portrait is shown, saying that he wants discretion and that he has a special personal bond with the work. The conversation among the two characters, from a side, defines the psychological plan of the character of Lord Henry, from the other position ,gives to the portrait realized by Basil an aura of extraordinariness and mystery. In fact, the characters are presented as they are and through the words used: if it’s not openly said, we know that Basil have feelings for Dorian; Lord Henry says that he’s a talented artist while the narrator tells us he’s mysterious and once also disappeared. From this conversation, we can understand that Lord Henry Wotton will be great but also destructive influence for Dorian; from the character himself we learn that he thinks beauty is shallow, from the narrator we know that he smokes opium and from Basil that he’s cynical. He presents some of the most famous paradoxes of Oscar Wilde like “ There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” or “ But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins”. Dorian is not physically present in the scene, but is described as young and handsome, so we expect someone naïve. Lord Henry shows to have understood Dorian’s nature when he defines him a Narcissus, even if he have never met him. The story is told by a third-person unobtrusive narrator, as he never intervenes; he succeed in drawing you into this decadent world in the opening of the book through the use of cynical dialogues.
I totally disagree with the conception of the beauty of Lord Henry: in my opinion intelligence and beauty are not mutually exclusive but rather they complete ach other because, as a famous quote of an anonymous says “Beauty without intelligence is a masterpiece painted on a napkin”. In fact, in many beauty contest , it is demanded to the participants to also show their intelligence, just being beautiful is not enough.