The infamous supernatural portrait of Dorian Gray that highlights a youthful man underneath a sinister guise.

The Picture of Dorian Gray: A Victorian Masterpiece

Hidden in the expansive world of our imaginations lies many unheard stories to unfold and express. Whether they pose as positive or negative influences, they all tie to the very essence of our deepest emotions.

From sorrow, determination, cunning, and remorse, many shades become explored. This week, we uncover a mask to The Portrait of Dorian Gray- A Victorian Masterpiece.

A Gothic Treasure is Born

A Victorian era inspired study. An interactive visual of Master Gray’s manor.
A Victorian era inspired study. An interactive visual of Master Gray’s manor. Image Source: (bp.blogspot.com)

To begin, on a late summer evening in 1889 renowned Editor J.M Stoddart arrives in London, England. As an advocate for Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, his purpose in the large metropolis serves to meet with aspiring writers.

Moreover, he also searches for the right material to formally publish and contract the author so they can grow professionally. During J. M’s first night in London, he invites authors Sir Arthur Doyle, T.P Gill, and Oscar Wilde to dine.

At this event, the aspiring writers submit their literary works to J.M and discuss topics over potential themes concerning publishment. By the following year, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” becomes officially published on the seventh of April in 1890!

Interestingly, author Oscar Wilde had previously published his Victorian masterpiece in July the previous year but under a different title. All in all, this event paved the way for the aspiring author to gain the recognition he deserved.

Interpretations of the Victorian Masterpiece

A 1998 edition of the Victorian masterpiece by Oscar Wilde and new artwork provided by Jeffery Eugenides.
A 1998 edition of the Victorian masterpiece by Oscar Wilde and new artwork provided by Jeffery Eugenides. Image Source: (pinimg.com)

Furthermore, after the release of this novel, many readers became compelled by this original tale and wanted more. For example, the original 1890 version of this story became recognized for being much shorter in length than future editions.

To add, another in-house editor named Stoddart had cut out many key details to Wilde’s book. Without a doubt, this took away the anticipated excitement and charisma of the story that featured lovers and further references.

Besides this version of the story, the 1891 version pushes many boundaries. To illustrate, Oscar Wilde created an additional seven chapters to his novel.

In this ambitious interpretation, he focuses on the character of Dorian Gray’s past by providing background information on his life. In addition to this, characters like James and Sybil Vane serve the purpose to highlight Dorian’s vain and self-righteous demeanor.

On the other hand, the last interpretation of this captivating story comes in 2011 when original deleted segments become featured. In summary, the portrait of Dorian Gray has witnessed a diverse variety of storytelling.

Dorian Gray Themes in Society

A mysterious mirror in a Victorian era style resembling the psychological effects vanity plays onto looker’s conscious.
A mysterious mirror in a Victorian era style resembling the psychological effects vanity plays onto looker’s conscious. Image Source: (pinimg.com)

Moreover, comes the themes of this interesting and infamous novel. In Oscar Wilde’s literary piece, themes like vanity, eroticism, and the supernatural become central to the story.

Another key feature that creates the ambiance of the story is the era the tale takes place in. Undoubtedly, the Victorian Era becomes recognized as being one of the most important and prosperous periods in Britain’s history.

Furthermore, when the story features homosexual relations between Dorian and Basil, many readers of the time become offended. This results in the editing of the original story’s plot during the first release in the late nineteenth century.

Another theme explored in the story becomes vanity. In some ways, this served the largest role in the plot because readers can witness the protagonist/anti-hero’s insecurities concerning appearances.

To illustrate, the painting he receives awoke a deep desire to preserve himself in an unrealistic way which ends catastrophically. In brief, the portrait of Dorian Gray highlights powerful and real-life elements that audiences can relate to.

Additional Subjects in Oscar Wilde’s Novel

A charismatic interpretation of artist Basil Hallward creating the recognized and disastrous painting of Dorian Gray.
A charismatic interpretation of artist Basil Hallward creating the recognized and disastrous painting of Dorian Gray. Image Source: (pinimg.com)

Besides the topics of eroticism and vanity, our last topic comes to the supernatural. In Wilde’s novel, the main character goes to great and dark lengths to preserve his beauty.

For example, it becomes stated that Dorian sells his soul through obscure factors to retain his youth. With this at hand, previous themes like vanity and eroticism tie in as he gains the chance to express himself.

Meaning he earns a seemingly everlasting status of indulging himself in selfish pursuits such as sexual encounters and maintaining power. What makes this tale so fascinating is the fact of how Dorian can retain his physical beauty.

In addition, his infamous portrait takes the toll of time as it succumbs to his wrongdoings and ages. In essence, these factors create the moody, spellbinding, and overall allure of this story.

Influences on the Story

The infamous supernatural portrait of Dorian Gray that highlights a youthful man underneath a sinister guise.
The infamous supernatural portrait of Dorian Gray that highlights a youthful man underneath a sinister guise. Image Source:(Theedgesusu.co.uk)

Equally important, comes the various influences that created the Victorian masterpiece of Oscar Wilde’s novel. Interestingly, the author himself expresses in interviews how his personal life played a large motivating factor in his work.

For example, he states “Dorian is what I would like to be in other ages, perhaps”. Aside from this, outside influences for this story derive from the German legend of “Faust”.

Here the protagonist also becomes tempted with experiencing seemingly everlasting life and beauty in exchange for his soul. Even though the stories have their own respective plots and differences, the main element-binding them together is temptation.

Another minor factor that plays in Wilde’s story is Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. For example, when Master Gray drives Sybil Vane to suicide, he refers to the character of Ophelia.

Moreover, she dies the same way, and her brother declares mortal revenge on the instigator just like in Wilde’s novel. On balance, Oscar Wilde blends several variations of old-world mythology and culture into his Victorian-themed world.

The Genre of Oscar Wilde’s Novel

Imagined soul illustration of Dorian Gray
Imagined soul illustration of Dorian Gray as he willingly sacrifices it for eternal physical beauty and life. A dark dream within the heart’s deepest desire expressed. Image Source: (fineartamerica.com)

Regarding the picture of Master Gray, the predominant genres that earn recognition here are Gothic, Philosophical, and Comedy of Manners. As expected, gothic derives from the supernatural and Victorian elements present in the story’s ambiance.

Along with this, Philosophical becomes emulated through the morality Dorian gains at the end of the story, plus the other lessons regarding vanity. Comedy of Manners would tie into the Victorian era as well because this period serves as an example of societal status.

Furthermore, implying a nod to the upper classes that are present in the story. In essence, Oscar Wilde’s unique tale provides an even blend of these elements through his storytelling methods that create a setting.

Criticism and Responses to Dorian Gray

A perfect representation of the melancholy and gothic theme of Dorian Gray’s story as a Victorian manor can be witnessed here
A perfect representation of the melancholy and gothic theme of Dorian Gray’s story as a Victorian manor can be witnessed here. Image Source: (weebly.com)

Aside from the motivating factors and themes of this story, responses and further criticisms become explored. In Oscar Wilde’s book, many audiences have provided predominately positive reviews.

However, in the early days of its release, many Victorian-era individuals found his work rather taboo. To illustrate, the eroticism theme explored in Wilde’s character raised many eyebrows for its sheer presentation of Homosexuality.

In addition, many British book reviewers had become convinced that Wilde stood on the grounds of being charged legally. This reason goes back to an old violation of laws guarding public morality which prohibited themes like open eroticism.

Most of the negative criticism that arose from Oscar Wilde’s novel typically derived from him following a Hedonist belief. To further allude, this belief of self-indulgence became far accepted from traditional Victorian values.

In short, the early days of Dorian Gray became met with great controversy.

Further Responses to the Victorian Treasure

Fast forward to modern times, The Portrait of Dorian Gray becomes met with fascination, great interest, and celebration of culture. Although the obsolete Victorian era views no longer dominate society, many literary reviewers praise its themes shared.

For example, Robert McCrum from the British newspaper “The Guardian” names Wilde’s book within the top one hundred English published works! Other critics of our time appreciate the idea and story but ultimately wish to see more explored.

Despite the initial backlash Oscar Wilde’s book faced, many readers in the twenty-first century continue to enjoy this story. For the most part, Dorian Gray plays an important role in the presentation of a suppressed community in Victorian England.

Legacy of a Captivating Tale

English actor Ben Barnes starring in director Oliver Parkers film interpretation of Dorian Gray. Another cultural celebration of the Victorian era masterpiece in modern society.
English actor Ben Barnes starring in director Oliver Parkers film interpretation of Dorian Gray. Another cultural celebration of the Victorian era masterpiece in modern society. Image Source: (vikisecrets.com)

Furthermore, the legacy of Dorian Gray can be found in many forms of media from Britain and its former territories. One of the most famous film adaptions of this literary masterpiece can be discovered in the 2009 interpretation.

This movie becomes directed by Oliver Parker and features English actor Ben Barnes where the story successfully comes to life. Furthermore, there are variations of events changed like any novel with a film adaption, but it successfully promotes the allure.

Equally important, there also comes another captivating adaption from 1976 under the distribution of BBC. This interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s dream becomes presented in an interactive way as the story delights with a live-action play.

This version stars English actor Peter Firth. To add, this title boasts of being the truest interpretation of the story as it follows the original 1890 story.

In all, Oscar Wilde’s story continues to make waves through generations of book lovers and Victorian-era fans!

Bonus Adaptions to Wilde’s Character

In addition to television and film adaptions, we explore further diverse expressions of Oscar Wilde’s infamous character. For example, one interpretation of the story can be heard on a radio broadcast show of ABC’s “Mystery Time”.

Taking place in 1957, listeners could witness another interactive performance of the famous story. To add, English actor Laurence Oliver makes an appearance as he voices the part of Lord Henry Wotten.

Overall, this performance becomes met with thrill and motivation for learning more about Wilde’s character’s universe. Another interpretation of Master Gray’s story becoming celebrated in various forms can be found in the graphic novel by Roy Thomas.

To further allude, this 2007 edition features a beautifully illustrated story guide that hooks readers into the gloomy world. Moreover, this piece earns praise for its aesthetically pleasing visuals and style of storytelling.

To sum up, Dorian continues to gain recognition beyond the nineteenth century.

Final Thoughts on the Victorian Cavalier

The interior of Master Gray’s home reimagined and reflecting on the dark beauty of the story’s era
The interior of Master Gray’s home reimagined and reflecting on the dark beauty of the story’s era. Image Source: (pinimg.com)

Finally, we arrive at the final thoughts of Oscar Wilde’s story of Dorian Gray. For the entire existence of this literary work, Wilde’s name has experienced many ups and downs regarding reputation and backlash.

No matter obstacle or era, this story continues to capture the imagination of many individuals. For example, this story becomes considered one of the top Dark Academia-themed tales in modern days.

Furthermore, the themes of old-world, mystery, thriller, and supernatural provide a means to find comfort and establish disconnection mentally. For these reasons, the aesthetic featured above captures the very essence and beauty of appreciation of art in various forms.

The Victorian era may have concluded some time ago, but that does not mean we can still explore it. Oscar Wilde succeeds in creating a symbolic, influential, and entertaining story that provides real-life insight and depth.

Altogether, the story lives on permanently through the magic of its pages and overall enthralling aura.

Significance of the Portrait of Dorian Gray

A moody depiction of a Victorian wallpaper deteriorating. Overall putting spotlight on the insecurity Dorian expressed in his tale.
A moody depiction of a Victorian wallpaper deteriorating. Overall putting spotlight on the insecurity Dorian expressed in his tale. Image Source: (bp.blogspot.com)

In conclusion, from sorrow, determination, cunning, and remorse, Dorian Gray’s character becomes immortalized. Oscar Wilde’s character earns a grand reputation of a bad soul becoming redeemed through integrity and will to fix things.

To add, many old- and new-time readers can continue to enjoy this story as new adaptions continue to arrive. If there is one thing this story can teach audiences, it would be to embrace self-love.

This serves as the most crucial message in the literary piece because this is something everyone can relate to. Along with this, responsibility becomes essential as our anti-hero finally develops positively as he accepts the errors of his ways.

Despite the negativity that happens to encircle many lives, one can always remember to push for more and create better results. In close, Oscar Wilde’s story and characters perfectly represent these attributes for influencing and commanding the audience’s conscience.

Works Cited:

Empress, Ruby Geist. 2019

Empress, Ruby Stranger. 2019

King, Lucas The Dark Watcher. 2022

The Picture of Dorian Gray – Wikipedia

Hedonism – Wikipedia

What is Comedy of Manners | Themes, Characteristics, Examples (pediaa.com)

The Picture of Dorian Gray: Key Facts | SparkNotes

 

 

 

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