Wilde’s masterpiece is “The picture of Dorian Gray”, an allegorical story of a young man who sells his soul to the devil in order to have endless beauty and timeless youth. It expresses human difficulties of accepting reality.
Wilde represents the contradictory relationship between truth and beauty, being and appearing: Dorian Gray is the expression of an hypocritical society based on appearances: the most important thing isn’t what you are but what you manifest; the portrait reveals the true dark side of this corrupted context.
The novel is paradoxical: it shows us a true and a false Dorian Gray without saying which is which. Moreover, everything is reversed: life becomes a work of art while the picture reflects the truth.
According to aesthetic conception, art expresses the nature of Beauty and its differences from truth and morality. It is a form of perfection untied from reality that “reveals everything, because it expresses nothing”.
The moral of the novel is that art is eternal and reality can’t be escaped: when the protagonist destroys his portrait, he kills himself. In that moment, Dorian became the old man he actually was while the picture is restored in its original beauty.