Oscar Wilde's first and only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was written in 1890 and was first published in the Lippincott’s monthly magazine. Published before Wilde would reach the height of his career through his critically acclaimed plays, The Picture Of Dorian Gray was received to much scandal and uproar, many claiming the book was immoral. The gothic tale tells the exploits of Dorian Gray, a young man who is the subject of a painting by Basil Hallward. In one of his sitting, he meets Lord Henry who tells Dorian that only things worth pursuing in life is beauty and pleasure. These words have a profound affect on Dorian, realizing he will once grow old and his beauty will fade, he wishes that he could sell his soul in order that the portrait would grow old and he would remain young and beautiful forever. Dorian wish is granted which pushes him into the world of immorality and sin. Every corrupt action shows itself as a mark or sign of aging on the Portrait.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a key example in the way in which we can uncover the authors context and values. Much of Wilde's literary work was concentrated in expressing the lives of upper class Londoners – a elitist group in which Wilde was apart of. Dorian Gray, though being of a gothic genre still continues to represents this group of people. It is clear that many of the characters in the novel must be based upon various types of people that Wilde came across in everyday life. These late Victorian era socialites, obsessed with the superficial, the physical, wealth and wit are