Oscar Wilde’s life was all about art, beauty, morality, and love. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of his most controversial works that blends all these aspects into one classic novel, narrated with incisive wit.
The book depicts the story of a young, handsome man that didn’t reflect too much on beauty and youth until a famous artist painted a large portrait of him that immortalized the two things that he would later value above all else.
No one loathed the idea of getting old more than Dorian, so he wanted to experience everything, constantly reflecting on questions of morality and sin. His biggest wish was that his portrait would age instead of himself.
Besides indulging in all number of vices in his pursuit of pleasure, Dorian Gray was also looking for love and passion in their purest form.
Gray becomes a corrupted soul, an embodiment of his shadow, and the book ends like it begins — with the portrait and its natural state of beauty.
We’ve revealed some highlights, but there’s so much more left for you to read. Still not curious?
Here are 25 The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes on beauty and corruption:
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.
Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the caveman had known how to laugh, history would have been different.
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.
An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them.
I know what conscience is, to begin with […] It is the divinest thing in us […] I want to be good. I can’t bear the idea of my soul being hideous.
Beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.
Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.
Each of us has heaven and hell in him.
There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.
I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.
Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.
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.
Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.
I loved you because you were marvelous, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art.
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.
Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.
I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if only one hides it.
I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter, and grow sad. I want a breath of our passion to stir dust into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain.
Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it.
There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest that gives us absolution.
Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.
They get up early, because they have so much to do, and go to bed early, because they have so little to think about.