Dorian Gray: Characters

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Dorian Gray: Characters

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feb 10, 2014, 12:02 pm

In our earlier discussion of The Circle a fair number of readers found most—if not all—of the characters in the book to be fairly unrealistic/unbelievable. Did you have similar struggles with The Picture of Dorian Gray?

feb 11, 2014, 11:00 am

I thought the characters in The Circle were more believable than Wilde's characters. I thoroughly disliked his characters, but they also did not ring true to me. Too superficially clever, and acts and thoughts that seemed false. DG himself - can there really be someone that shallow, someone who dismisses anything troubling or blames the victim for disturbing his attempt at happiness? They seemed more caricatures than characters.

feb 11, 2014, 11:57 am

When that criticism was leveled at The Circle, I protested. The Circle isn't attempting psychological realism. It's attempting a certain sort of surface realism, without requiring you to do the complex mentalizing of character's motivations, choices and psychology that a more realistic novel would require.

I feel otherwise about DG. See the argument here :)

feb 11, 2014, 1:49 pm

The misogynistic and anti-Semitic attitudes of the characters really bothered me, too. I know that was more common in writing of that period, and there was no such thing as "political correctness," but it was still painful to read.

feb 11, 2014, 5:24 pm

We never got a chance to read the Circle, so we didn't participate in those talks and I can't do a comparison, but I can talk on the characters in Dorian Gray. I didn't like them, but I think that made them very real. There are plenty of people out there who just rub you the wrong way, these main characters were three of them.

feb 11, 2014, 9:20 pm

I suspect many of us today would be shocked how well the three main characters reflect a particular class of late Victorian society. Wilde no doubt exaggerated somewhat, but I'm not convinced he was too far off his mark. There is no end of satire, and political cartoons, that play to the charming, witty, not to mention shallow, among the ideal classes of the period.