The novel tells the story of Dorian Gray, a nice guy who raises, with an artistic streak that makes him a beautiful portrait but that does not exhibit because "there is too much of himself in this painting". A friend of the artist, hearing so well Dorian decides who wants to know him, but makes what the painter and, beginning Dorian himself, interpret as an error: trying to change it. Lord Henry Wotton, a friend of the artist, certainly had what it takes to make the politician: good speaking skills and his theories, in this case on how things go in the world, with which he can change, or better to start , the life of Dorian. He then takes courage and confidence, both in himself and in Lord Henry with sorrow of the painter. She falls in love, then, a good actress but was working in a theater "second class".
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When she tells Dorian the decision to want to quit acting for his sake, he replied that he would leave because he had destroyed his best feature. In desperation, the girl kills and Dorian, in which the painter had donated the painting, he notices a slight change of the latter, which could be due to his reckless reaction to the beloved. In fact, he had expressed a wish at the time of the donation of the work to him by the artist - friend: "This beautiful picture will remain so, with all its beauty, and I instead imbruttirò and these will mock me. I wish he could grow old at my place!". But, as you know, you have to be careful that you want to express: they could come true. Dorian, completely detached from reality, now living in a kind of limbo, where aging and imbruttimento panel was a terrible problem. Do you trust, also, by Basil (the painter, who in the meantime asked, in vain, it is to expose the picture is returning to pose for him) the reason why he did not want to expose the picture, but not the trust her, in secret, as he feels that it would remain both upset. Therefore, to prevent anyone from discovering the secret, he put it in a room old and now abandoned his house, but sees spies everywhere, in fact, the first suspect is Victor, his valet. On him around many rumors circulating about some of his actions left, and Basil, before leaving, he wants to know why, so Dorian invites him to look at the picture. At that Basil is desperate for what Dorian did in his life, but the picture "suggests" the boy (now thirty-eight) a deep hatred of Basil, which kills cruelly stabbing. This is the apotheosis of his sadistic wickedness of mind; killing a friend and stay completely indifferent, as if instead of Basil there had been a fly. (Here, however, we have a serious lapse of Wilde did not describe the expected immediately imbruttimento the framework; and after the ramblings descriptive facts so far, does not make sense not to show it; I thought a change of tone that coincided with the change of history but, disillusioned, I noted that the descriptive technique has remained the same). But then, while not reaching dispiacersene, he regrets it for fear of being indicted, and asks for help, to get rid of the body, a biologist or a doctor (I assume), who subsequently committed suicide; and, unable to forgive himself for killing an innocent man, he prefers the oblivion, in this case by means of opium. Meet here the brother of Sibyl Vane, the beloved actress, who died eighteen years before, who wants to kill him, and here its beauty he needs to convince him that when his sister died, he was a little boy, but the meeting disturbs him and It scares him, so that when a hunter kills his friend by mistake, without any fault, one of his colleagues, he is convinced that it should succeed him something similar. Turns out, rallegrandosene not just that the man killed was James Vane, the brother Sybil. He was safe, and with a willingness to divenir good. He wanted to start a new life now. But the picture was worse, upsetting Dorian Gray. He kills himself, convinced that we can not change, and the picture is, to those who see the scene, as it was in the time of its original splendor.
We begin by the criticism: the book does not like it at all. It is badly written, the author always uses the same one or two hundred words, do not use expressions that have meaning some 'deeper letters with which they are written, there is a little' rhetoric, some colorful expression. More than a piece of literature seems a manual or something written by someone with no imagination, almost like (I do not want to overdo it) if he had written a student of a middle school! The content is there, but "must be sought with the lantern." If it had been written differently, it would be a good book. It takes away all the pleasure of reading, as it is more likely that, even lowered! It is also a repetitiveness never seen before: it is possible that, in twenty chapters (out of twenty) to occur four or five events, and events mean both important events, also not for the story itself, and psychological changes in the characters. As you can see in this report, the summary (which are at the beginning) includes all the events of the text, synthesized in very few (relative to the actual length of the book) lines: it was an incredible effort to try to fit, from one line to the 'On the other, a few comments to make it longer, but I almost regret, given the setting of these criticisms, addressed to nip (for what it is in my ability) text. I think it was addressed to a less educated, and this partly explains the language and the subject matter (which I'll discuss later) but, taking good for this hypothesis, I can understand the excessive repetition, as if Wilde had not nothing more to write, or that it wants to fix very well in the lead in the reader every single event (succeeding). The descriptions then, only confirm the thesis of '' high school student ", as it is these students learn the techniques Descriptive then, at first, try to put them everywhere and in the book he makes a disproportionate use, always and in any case. In short: it could be a better book, it was written much better. On the cover it says: "The masterpiece of Decadence" but I, not to be conceited, I could not see the masterpiece (but decadent themes, those too).
In the story of the protagonist some critics have tried to identify certain autobiographical elements, but the dominant search them rather in the other two main characters: the painter Basil Hallward, fascinated by Dorian Gray in a perfect aesthetic, and Sir Henry Wotton, and eloquent brilliant dandy. The novel can also be interpreted as a severe criticism of the London aristocracy: the cynicism of the conversations of the Victorian parlors and the emptiness of human relationships corrupted fact a boy who, at the beginning of the novel, we see a beautiful human specimen, naive and proud in her youthful beauty. But we must not get carried away by this "literary rehabilitation". The condemnation of vice is not an element that can put the romance out of a decadent atmosphere. For the esthete can not give up the cult of beauty and lives in this morbidly. Hence the theme of futility and self-destruction.
Obvious is also the crisis of values - symbol of positivism. In the words of Henry Wotton we find a bitter confirmation: "The basis of optimism is that terror, [...] we praise the banker to keep open our account, and find good qualities in the robber, hoping that savings our pockets, [...] I harbor the greatest contempt for optimism. "
As with other masterpieces of the decadence, however, to read "between the lines" is justifiable to a certain point. The meaning and the message can not be that much away from each other and from the terms in which it is placed. The sieve of interpretation can in fact identify the large grains of medieval allegories but most can hardly grasp the ins and outs of a tormented soul like that of an intellectual end of '800. To understand we must then insert ourselves into the mindset deeply decadent and accept the words for what they evoke. No coincidence Wilde decides to use literary topos long tradition going on in the reader ancient reminiscences, such as the deal with the devil.
From the point of view of style is also interesting to note the evolution observed in the figure of Oscar Wilde: regarded by contemporary author refined and "difficult", later became, for its syntactic simplicity, one of the first writers who take up the foreigners learning English.