Dorian Gray is one of my favorite characters from Showtime’s Penny Dreadful.
Actually, I have several favorite characters from this show. It’s impossible to choose just one from such an extraordinarily talented cast!
Dorian Gray is a character that hails from Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. It was originally published in a more abbreviated version in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890 and was considered offensive and indecent by British reviewers of the time. Mr. Wilde extended the story from 13 to 20 chapters and it was published by the editorial house Ward, Lock and Company a year later.
If you’ve read the book you probably remember that an artist has painted the portrait of the young and handsome Dorian Gray. Dorian soon decides that beauty is the only worthwhile aspect of life and he wishes to stay young and attractive forever. He pursues a hedonistic lifestyle and ultimately falls in love with a talented actress. He proposes, and all bodes well until Dorian learns that his love has given up acting, which he considered to be inseparable from her beauty.
He breaks the engagement and then notices that the portrait has taken on a cruel appearance. His wish has been granted. He retains his beauty, while his portrait absorbs the price of his narcissistic choices.
In the Penny Dreadful series, we haven’t yet seen Dorian’s portrait but we know it exists. Too, he currently has a love interest and he is celebrating her publicly. In the book, the actress kills herself after Dorian forsakes her. Could the same theme be far behind in the series? Angelique does seem quite fragile and emotionally dependent upon Dorian’s love and acceptance.
“To be different, to be powerful. Is that not a divine gift?”
Dorian Gray to Vanessa Ives
I love the entire premise of the show, how each character has a darker side they have yet to accept. Episode by episode we follow their path to see if their hidden identities will empower or destroy them.
I blend the same theme throughout The Fine Art of Deception series, as I find the idea of secrets and secret identities are so fascinating. Everyone dons a mask when they step into the public eye. People are rarely, truly themselves, even when they boast that they are. I wanted to explore what it would be like for someone who sees what others wish to keep secreted away. How do they react toward someone who shows up with such uninvited intimacy? What happens when someone like this is confronted by a love that requires them to be authentic and vulnerable? Could there be a place in in this person’s life where they find happiness and love?