The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Alternate Ending

[note: In this alternate ending, Dorian did not murder Basil]

He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome–more loathsome, if possible, than before. Frozen in terror at this terrible creature, his head turned quickly toward the door when he heard a loud knocking. It was Lord Henry and Basil Hallward.

“Dorian, please let us in. Your beauty is youthful but this childish behavior is unbecoming!” cried Lord Henry. Dorian looked at the door where his friends stood behind. What was he to do? If they witnessed the wretched painting they would become privy to his tainted soul. No, he could not let them see his soul, his essence sodden with maladies. This was all Basil’s fault. If he hadn’t painted this mirror of terrors, his consciousness would never have been corrupted…

Dorian picked up a knife, let his friends inside, and locked the door behind them.

“Dorian, what is the matter with you?” asked Basil. He had never seen Dorian’s beauty so disturbed. His face still looked like the work of Michelangelo yet was drunk with madness that somehow chipped away at his angular features. The men then noticed the painting, which had changed from a portrait of an Adonis to that of a Satyr.

“What you see before you is what you cannot see,” Dorian said quietly. “You both have been drunk with my appearance and blind to my soul. Your infatuation has sickened my spirit, weathered my whole. I cannot live knowing that you are privy to the darkness of my beauty. Basil, you created this monster. You must destroy it.”

“You are speaking nonsense. Art cannot be created nor destroyed, especially by an artist” said Lord Henry.

“Then you must alter it,” said Dorian. “Basil, you must draw a new painting of my soul, or else I will strike my face and take away your muse.” Dorian raised the knife to one of his delicately rosy cheeks.

“I will do as you command, my friend, but this will not assuage your dissonance” Basil warned. Dorian took a seat while Basil began to work on the picture. The picture frightened him, his hand trembling as he worked to alter the monstrosity. As he tried to repaint his Adonis, he noticed something was off. He was using the same materials he used to paint the picture before, but the paint was reacting strangely on the canvas. The yellow he had used to glorify Dorian’s youthful locks was vibrant on the brush, but when it met the canvas it spoiled. His hand trembled uncontrollably as he tried to paint the contours of Dorian’s face, causing them to be crooked rather than majestic.

“Dorian, you complete me like the creatures of Aristophanes and all I want is to please you. But your demands are corroding my art. I can only create art when it comes from Beauty itself, which is how I created the original portrait of you. Your demands have defiled the artist, the art. You are asking me to create an Art for ulterior motives, which I cannot do for it would no longer be Art.”

“Oh, Basil! You simple, pathetic man. You are the reason for my degradation!” shouted Dorian. In a swift movement, he sliced his rosy cheek and a strange, dark liquid streamed down his face like tears of an ugly, scorned woman. He then cut his hair, which fell to the floor like course hay.

“Look!” cried Basil. The men looked at the painting. The rosiness in Dorian’s cheeks and the brightness of his locks had been restored.

“This is the only way,” said Dorian. “I must leave behind a legacy of untouched beauty, for it is all I have achieved. No one must see the blackness of my soul. No, my beauty must be immortal, and only Art can immortalize beauty.” Dorian plunged the knife into his heart and he fell to the floor. Like a wilted lilac, his body lost its youthful glory that was only memorable in its prime.

The picture’s beauty was restored to its original magnificence. An onlooker
years from now would certainly appreciate its beauty, but would never understand its genesis.

—————-

Notes: 

  • I did my best to channel Wilde’s style (alliteration, diction (e.g. “strange”), homoeroticism (“wilted lilac”) and also tried to retain the character’s personalities (e.g. when Lord Henry says “You are speaking nonsense. Art cannot be created nor destroyed, especially by an artist”
  • Like Sybil, Basil loses his talent as an artist because of Dorian
  • I tried to amplify Wilde’s beliefs in Aestheticism in Basil’s line: “But your demands are corroding my art. I can only create art when it comes from Beauty itself, which is how I created the original portrait of you. Your demands have defiled the artist, the art. You are asking me to create Art for ulterior motives, which I cannot do for it would no longer be Art.”
  • Also, the last line hints that the picture of Dorian Gray will only be remembered for its beauty and not its “genesis,” another nod to Aestheticism
  • Dorian’s last words “my beauty must be immortal, and only Art can immortalize beauty” are another nod to Aestheticism
  • This alternate ending is not terribly different than the original, but it’s meant to be less ambiguous than the original by echoing the preface instead of suggesting some moral imperative

—–

-Ripley

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