The title of the book is “The picture of Dorian Gray”. It’s named like that because it’s about a portrait of a young and exceptionally beautiful youngster, named Dorian Gray. The story further it’s about how the portrait influences Dorian’s life until his death.
2. Describe the setting
The setting of the story is in the London (and sometimes also at the countryside) of the nineteenth century. The most part of the story happens round and about the wealthy class of London but it includes also less wealthy people, which Dorian meets.
3. Are there any flash-forwards or flash-backs? If so, describe them.
I couldn’t find in the book any flash-backs or flash-forwards.
The people in this book talk to each other quite nice and polite, so you can see pretty well it’s not modern written. It has also something to do with the fact that the most people in the story were wealthy men. The only thing that really annoyed me in this book at a certain time were the extended descriptions of everything that happened or that somebody thought. After a while it really was getting quite boring. Further, it wasn’t a quite difficult book to read and I could manage pretty well the vocabulary. There were only three words which I didn’t know in the beginning and which were used severely. Mere, dreadful and shallow were those words.
5. Describe the way suspense is built up
It’s a pretty interesting book, which you really want to continue reading, once you have started. The suspense is built up by using interesting epigrams (really amazing sometimes, those things), having as principal person a handsome young lad with a prosper character, the events that are happening and not to forget the curiosity about what will happen in the end to Dorian or his portrait.
6. Which perspective has been used and how has this affected the book?
It has been used the perspective of an all-knowing teller who knows everybody’s thoughts. The one time you read the thoughts of Lord Henry and the other time and actually most of the time, you look at the events through Dorian’s eyes.
7. Are there any loose threads in the story? If so mention one
There are no loose threads in the story.
8. Which of the characters could you identify best and why?
I think I can identify best with Dorian until one point. I’m also sometimes a bit narcistic and I regret, of course, that I cannot stay young forever, but I would never sell my soul for that. The book does not contain further many characters which I actually can identify with.
I must say that the part of the book that impressed me most was the beginning of the friendship between Dorian Gray and Lord Henry. How the boy seems fascinated by Lord Henry’s cleverness and how Harry (Lord Henry) is fascinated by the young, pure, natural and amazing beautiful lad. They are also inspiring each other.
10. Which scene in the book did you like least/disappointed you and why?
Well, I can say that I did like least a whole chapter. That is chapter 11. It is full of descriptions and summations of things. It’s all quite boring, especially compared with the interesting dialogues between Dorian and Lord Henry Wotton in the other chapters. Also from chapter 11 till almost the end of the book, the story gets darker and because of that it’s also a bit less beautiful then in the beginning.
11. Are there any other ways in which the writer tries to manipulates the reader and if so, mention them.
There certainly are ways in which Oscar Wilde tries to manipulate the readers. One of them and definitely the most clear is Lord Henry’s epigrams. On this way he lets the readers think along with the characters.
“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy” page 77, chapter 6
Also descriptions of persons manipulates the reader, whether they like the person or not. But I guess writers do that in every book.
12. Describe the author’s vision of literature. Think of the social, economic and political background.
“The picture of Dorian Gray” has been written in the Victorian time, at the end of the 19th century. You can notice that at the use of the language and the space. This book was for that time revolutionary, because it had pretty much comment on the society from that time. First it wasn’t well-received, but afterwards it became a success. The emphasis on the esthetical, on the beauty and on the looks, and the critic to applied standards and values, you can find also in other works of Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde was himself gay and you can notice in “The picture of Dorian Gray” the one admiration from a man to another one. How deeply their feelings are, it’s not told. Maybe Oscar covered expressly this subject up, because homosexuality was in that time illegal. He has been later arrested for being a gay.
13. Which genre does the book belong to?
“The picture of Dorian Gray” is hard to place under one genre. It has horror, drama, psychology, philanthropies, fantasy and supernatural elements. I guess I would call it a psychological drama roman.
14. What would you like to change in the story and why/ why not?
Well, I would like to let the story just as it is. If I would change it, the whole story would be completely different (for example if I would have wanted that there was no portrait or that Dorian would not die). It’s the original story that makes the book so good. Besides why changing something when you’re very contended about it?
15. Which character from the book would you like to meet in reality and what would you like to say to him/her?
I would certainly want to meet Dorian Gray and see his tremendous beauty. I would then certainly say to him: “Be careful with what you wish and try to save your soul. The only way to have real youth it’s not about looks, but it’s about living your life when you’re still young and pure, with no serious worries on your mind. ”
16. Choose a quotation from the book which is exemplary to the book and explain why you have chosen this quotation.
“Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible. . . . Yes, Mr. Gray, the gods have been good to you. But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it, and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you, or have to content yourself with those mean triumphs that the memory of your past will make more bitter than defeats. Every month as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses. You will become sallow, and hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed. You will suffer horribly.... Ah! realize your youth while you have it. Don't squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.” page 22, chapter 2.
“Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!” page 22, chapter 2.
In this quotation Lord Henry talks to Dorian Gray, when he had met him for the first time, at Basil’s house, when Dorian is still standing (for a portrait) for him. The lad, who is in the beginning pure and natural, gets really impressed by Harry’s epigrams. When Dorian sees the portrait he really regrets that he will get older and wrinkled and that he will always see his younger and more beautiful version in the portrait. So he even says at that moment that he would give his soul if the picture would be the one who grew old and if he would be the one to be always young.
19. Does this book reminds you of another book, song, play, painting, sculpture or movie?
It reminded me of the music of a composer. It almost seemed to me, that the book “The picture of Dorian Gray” was based on Chopin’s music or vice versa. Chopin’s name is also severely used in the book.
It also reminded me of another Oscar Wilde-story about Narcissus. There it’s also about narcism (that is an exceptional interest and admiration for yourself).
And finally it reminded me of the movie Cruel Intentions. That’s because the actor that plays in that movie, Ryan Philippe, would first also play in the movie “The picture of Dorian Gray” (2005). On the last moment it was cancelled. Not only because of the look of Ryan, I thought at that movie, but also because in Cruel Intentions, Ryan, plays also a wealthy lad who makes enough sins and his end is also tragically.
At lest, it reminded me of the movie “The soldier’s tale”. There a soldier sales his soul to the devil.
20. You have been approached by a newspaper to write a catchy review/advertisement for this book. Write it!
Who doesn’t want to stay for ever young and enjoy his youth how much he wants to? I think everybody would like that, but...Be careful with what you wish! What seems to be a dream can turn up in a true nightmare. Read the book “The picture of Dorian Gray” if you are looking for a deeply roman with a loads of intense suspense.
21. You have been approached by an editor to write the text on the back of the book. Don’t use more than 150 words
“The picture of Dorian Gray” is really an amazing interesting book. Subjects like: narcism and deeply epigrams are quickly to find. It’s about a boy who gets a portrait of himself from a friend. Because he wants to keep his youth and regrets that he would get older Dorian says that he would even give his soul to get what he wanted. Be careful with your wishes, because they can turn back on you. Each advantage has a disadvantage.
“As he was turning the handle of the door, his eye fell upon the portrait Basil Hallward had painted of him. In the dim arrested light that struggled through the cream-coloured silk blinds, the face appeared to him to be a little changed. The expression looked different. One would have said that there was a touch of cruelty in the mouth. It was certainly strange.”
22. If you were to direct a movie based on this book, what would you alter in the story?
I would try to keep pretty much the same story for the film. One thing what I would certainly shorten is the extended number of used epigrams. For the rest, I would leave it like it is, because all the things that happen (although the most things that happen are not very joyful) and all the wise epigrams that are told make the book really impressing.
23. If this book turned into a movie, which character would you like to be and why?
I guess that I would want to play Lord Henry. He says the most fascinating things and has an interesting character. I would give a citation that impressed me a lot:
“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” page 66, chapter 5
My father once told that to me; it was surprising to found out that it’s a citation from this book. It had made such an impact on me because I can recognize myself in the epigram.
24. Which song/music/composer would you choose for the opening shot and what would the opening shot be?
The opening shot would be, for me, when Lord Henry meets Dorian Gray. Then the story really begins. The music that fits best is “Nocturne for piano Op.9-2” from F.Chopin and it kind of describes Dorian’s beauty, which Harry must have seen.
25. Which song/music./composer would you choose for the last shot and what would the last shot be?
The last shot would definitely be the last chapter of the book. Dorian wants finally to destroy the portrait who tortured him for so long. So he pulls a knife in it, but not the portrait it’s the one who is gone and “killed”, but Dorian himself. The composer that certainly fits best to this scene is F.Chopin and the music would be “Prelude in E Minor No.4”.