The Picture Of Dorian Gray
This novel is about the transformation that Dorian Gray goes through after he has his portrait painted by a prominent artist. The young man has an unspoiled nature at the start, but soon after the painter introduces Gray to his aquaintance Lord Henry Wotton, Gray's transformation begins. Lord Wotton stresses to the impressionable young man that youth is the one thing worth having, and Wotton's words have such an effect on Gray that when he sees the finished portrait of himself, he wishes aloud for his portrait to age and become decrepit, and for his own looks to stay forever young. Dorian Gray cries out that he would give his soul for this, and astounds the painter, Basil Hallward, with his sudden contempt for growing old.
Gray gets his wish, and while over the years his looks remain the same, his painting becomes ravaged by time, and by the descent into decadence that Dorian enters. He enjoys a brief engagement to an actress who becomes so besotted with him that she kills herself when he rejects her. Following this Gray lives his life by Lord Wotton's credo that to be good, he only needs to be in harmony with himself, not others. He takes to frequenting opium dens and visiting male prostitutes, and several respectable young men are thrust into scandal just by their association with Gray. His looks however, are forever young and fresh, so people don't know whether or not to believe the rumours that they hear of his debached ways. In the end, he decides that he must destroy the painting, rather than have it discovered. In doing so, though, the painting is restored to its original state, and Dorian Gray is discovered dead, so old and grotesque that he is not recognized by his own staff.