The Picture of Dorian Gray – An Excerpt

An excerpt from, what, in my opinion, is one of the most intelligent books written, and to add to the grandeur of the book, it has been written in a very exquisite language. It’s one of those books that make you “think” at every turn of event. It makes you stop and consider in times that are swifter and impatient than the one in which it was written; thus taking you to an alternate reality. Written almost 120 years (published in 1890) this book can teach us more about ourselves than retrospection and nirvana ever can. The Picture of Dorian Gray, is one book, I always maintained, I’d never recommend to anyone. It’s a book that one must alight upon on his own, if ever, because it might change your life, it might influence you…and I’m not sure if I want to be the reason someone’s life changes…

…After a few moments he said to him, “Have you really a very bad influence, Lord Henry? As bad as Basil says?”

“There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral—immoral from the scientific point of view.”


“Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us. And yet—” …

…“And yet,” continued Lord Henry, in his low, musical voice, and with that graceful wave of the hand that was always so characteristic of him, and that he had even in his Eton days, “I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream—I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal—to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also…

– Oscar Wilde in The Picture of Dorian Gray

– Sameen

5 thoughts on “The Picture of Dorian Gray – An Excerpt

  1. I read the book when I was 16 years old. I was shaken by it. I was scared and bullied by the words in the book. I did not have the guts to complete it. I left it when some 20 pages were left and never went back to reading it. It is profound and larger than life. Maybe I will try and finish it when I feel I can.


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