I wanted to take a look at some of the interpretations of Dorian Gray presented in different media, specifically book covers, comic book covers, and actors from movie interpretations. As someone meant to represent the epitome of beauty, youth, and ‘purity’ of the soul as seen in physical form, it is interesting to note the differences and similarities of these varied interpretations. From actors to illustrations, each of these portraits adds a unique element to the discussion of Gray’s aesthetically pleasing figure. These are obviously not the only interpretations- there are sure to be countless actors from varied plays and smaller budget films, etc. I also found a great site that lists a ton of more comic books in which Dorian Gray makes appearances than are listed here. Here are some of the faces of Dorian Gray:
Hurd Hatfield in the 1945 film adaptation The Picture of Dorian Gray (source).
Helmut Berger in the 1970 film adaptation The Secret of Dorian Gray (source).
Dell Laurel Print Edition 1973
Charles Aidman in the 1973 movie adaptation The Picture of Dorian Gray (source).
Dover Thrift Print Edition 1993
Barnes and Noble Classics Print Edition 2003
Marvel’s 2008 Comic Book cover of Part One of The Picture of Dorian Gray (source).
Tantor Media Print Edition 2008
Penguin Print Edition 2008
World Library Print Edition 2009
Ben Barnes in the 2009 film adaptation Dorian Gray (source).
IDW Publishing’s 2012 Comic Book Cover (source).
In seeing all these interpretations together, we must ask ourselves, How would we characterize ideals of beauty from the late 19th century? Do these ideals define or present any social issues of the time? Can this ideal of beauty be seen as having evolved over time? Is our understanding of what we consider sublime during the late 19th century something we can ever fully understand or appreciate, being influenced by images and ideals of our own time? And all this, of course, with a grain of salt: what is the value, if any, in categorizing and cataloging ideals of beauty,(limiting and excluding as they are) if only to understand how these ideals negatively impact any and all those who fall outside these narrow margins (however narrowly one defines them)?