It's come to my attention that our own digital delay has started to write about The Picture Of Dorian Gray in his recent postings, and I'd like to add a little bit onto the subject. I myself am not done reading the book (I get distracted easily), but of what I've read so far it seems to be the kind of book whereas that if I were to annotate it, it'd be sopping wet from my constant highlighter usage.
In the edition I have (the cheapest one I could find at Border's), the preface talks about how Oscar Wilde saw the characters in Dorian Gray as a sort of symbol of himself. Wilde wrote: "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks of me: Dorian is what I would like to be- in other ages perhaps."
I found this incredibly interesting, because basically he thought of himself as a person whose talents were so great he wasn't quite interesting; society thought of him as a person who liked to influence others-whether or not it was in a good way; and he wanted to be a person who committed sins for pleasures. The last one, of course, can be linked to the fact that Oscar Wilde was gay. If only he were in our current "age", he wouldn't have been convicted to jail for two years for his "sins".
If you think about it, how Oscar Wilde is able to separate himself into three distinct yet linked in a way characters makes a lot of sense. Everyone has the person they are to themselves, the person they are to others, and the person they'd like to be- three separate characters that are linked, and yet all incredibly different. The person you are to yourself is how you see yourself in the mirror, in your mind, and in general. While others may think of you as smart, you yourself might find you to be an idiot. The person you are to others is basically what you wish others thought of you as. Kind of like who you want to be, except of course you're being much more humble and condescending since the person you are to yourself prevents you from reaching great heights. The person you'd like to be, then, is basically like a god? a dream? a goal that you know is beyond out of your reach? It'd make sense if Oscar Wilde applied this sort of theory into his writing, since the way Basil and Lord Henry viewed Dorian was kind of as if he were above them (especially Basil, who is how Oscar Wilde viewed himself).
You're most cruel to yourself, which makes sense, since Basil is murdered by Dorian. The way other view you or how you'd like them to makes sense, because Lord Henry is much like an artist on his own, only in his way of words and his influence. He's like a step before what Dorian is, which is that of uttermost beauty, turmoil, and amazement- a somewhat god-like being who is worshiped by lesser ones.
Maybe I'm jumping to all these conclusions a bit to early on. To get a better knowledge of all this you should go here. Then you'll understand everything I've rattled on about a little better.