Dorian Gray doesn't look a day over twenty-two. Once upon a time, Dorian really was young, handsome, and charming. To preserve Dorian's charm, his friend Basil Hallward the artist painted his portrait. Soon, the picture -- and Dorian's close friendship with Basil -- On the inside, every wicked deed he commits leaves its mark -- or does it? The portrait that Basil painted hangs in a special room in Dorian's house, covered completely. Underneath the cover lies an image that has changed and aged, just as Dorian has not.
"Oh! In what a wild hour of madness he had killed his friend! How ghastly the mere memory of the scene! He saw it all again. Each hideous detail came back to him with added horror. Out of the black cave of time, terrible and swathed in scarlet, rose the image of his sin." In their ideal of an exquisitely sensitive temperament that thrills to fine shadings in sensation, the principles of the aesthetic (or "decadent") movement are well suited to the tale of terror. No story exemplifies this better than Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. The sparkling wit and zest for life of Wilde's characters combine with cold-blooded acts of horror to generate a deliciously twisted sense of elegance and evil, civilization and degradation. Oscar Wilde, like Edgar Allan Poe, shows us that what we find loathsome and frightening can also be beautiful.