The beautiful dorian gray becomes enchanted by a portrait of himself and in a fit of childish petulance wishes that he could remain young and handsome forever while the picture could bear the signs of age and corruption. For this he cries, he would trade his very soul.
In a reinterpretation of two ancient myths (faustus and narcissus), oscar wilde explores the concepts of beauty, hedonism and social hypocrisy through his infinitely fascinating protaginist dorian gray. Drawn into a world of sin and excess we as readers witness dorian's moral degredation as he leads his soul into further and further peril. Having said this, potential readers should be aware that the novel is not simply an indictment of vanity and epicureanism but rather an exploration of individuality in a morally rigid and highly conformist society.
Written with the trademark wit and cutting insight that one would expect from oscar wilde, the picture of dorian gray is an astonishing work that stands the test of time.