‘The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.’
When Basil Hallward paints the portrait of young, handsome Dorian Gray, he falls prey to his dazzling beauty. Afraid that his youth and looks will waste away, Dorian expresses a wish that his portrait, and not he, will age and fade over time. His wish is granted, and over the ensuing years, Dorian indulges in every kind of vice and pleasure, never ageing nor disfiguring. Only his portrait, hidden to the world, bears the marks of his actions, and as his soul grows ever more wasted and corrupted, devastating consequences lie in wait.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is an exploration of the purpose of art, the superficial nature of youth and beauty, and the conflict between morality and intemperance. First published in its complete, uncensored form in 1891, it is Oscar Wilde’s only novel.