Nothing says Halloween like reading a classic gothic novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is no doubt a spooky read given the selling of souls, eternal youth, and a magic portrait that ages while you don’t. Oh, and we can’t forget the murder.
The horror tale is Wilde’s only novel and brought in quite a bit of controversy upon being published in the 1890s. However, it is now one of his most famous works and among the greats in literature. Its chilling story of a young man that desires to stay beautiful forever and the lengths he goes to make this happen scream spooky season. Let’s look at the reasons why The Picture of Dorian Gray is your next Halloween read.
“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
How did he get to that point?
Dorian Gray overhears an aristocrat’s hedonistic worldview while getting his portrait painted. According to the aristocrat, the only things worth pursuing in life are sensual fulfillment and beauty. This makes Dorian realize he isn’t going to be beautiful forever, which he is not okay with. Obviously, he sells his soul for youth.
How does it end?
People begin to die. A few kill themselves over the pain he causes them. Dorian begins to fear for his life as people begin to notice he isn’t aging.
What happens at the end? You will have to find out for yourself.
What’s it about?
Why would you want to read this classic for Halloween? I’m glad you asked. Wilde’s novel is very psychological exploring the lengths someone would go to keep their youth. These lengths include selling one’s soul. Extreme or not extreme? The spooky elements in the story make for the perfect late night read on All Hallows Eve.
Things get even spookier…
He sells his soul, which is already very spooky, but in addition to selling his soul, he requests to live out his pleasures while the portrait ages and fades. As the portrait ages, it holds onto all of his sins. His actions lead to destruction of not only himself, but those around him.
“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
While the novel is definitely spooky, it also, according to Wilde, contains a lot of himself in it. He wrote in a letter back in 1894,
“[The novel] contains much of me in it — Basil Hallward is what I think I am; Lord Henry, what the world thinks me; Dorian is what I would like to be — in other ages, perhaps.”Oscar Wilde
Looking for a TV adaptation of the gothic novel instead? Try one from the list below. Wilde’s novel is no stranger to an on-screen adaptation and makes for a spooky movie night as well!
If you’re looking to read more spooky books, make sure to check out these nine new horror releases here!