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Home > Culture and Society

The Picture of Doreen Gray

23 February 2007

'There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is the seven signs of ageing,' said Andie MacDowell.

'How sad it is!' murmured Doreen Gray with her eyes still fixed upon the 'realistic image' of the John Lewis department store's newly unveiled not-size-zero swimwear model. 'I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! I would give my soul for that!'

At dinner she would not eat anything. Plate after plate went away untasted.


Basil Hallward, the plastic surgeon, hacked away with that marvellous bold touch of his, that had the true refinement and perfect delicacy that in art, at any rate comes only from strength.

'Let me look at it. It is the best thing I have ever done. Do take the bandages away, Doreen.'

'So you think that it is only God who sees the soul, Basil? Draw that bandage back, and you will see mine... You won't? Then I must do it myself,' said the young woman, and she tore the bandage from her face and flung it on the ground.

An exclamation of horror broke from the surgeon's lips as he saw in the dim light the hideous face grinning at him. There was something in its expression that filled him with disgust and loathing. Good heavens! It was Doreen Gray's own face that he was looking at! The horror, whatever it was, had not yet entirely spoiled that marvellous beauty. There was still some gold in the thinning hair and some scarlet on the sensual mouth. The sodden eyes had kept something of the loveliness of their blue, the noble curves had not yet completely passed away from chiselled nostrils and from plastic throat. Yes, it was Doreen herself.

Doreen rushed at him and dug the knife into the great vein that is behind the ear, crushing the man's head down on the table and stabbing again and again.

But this murder - was it to dog her all her life? Was she always to be burdened by her past? There was only one bit of evidence left against her. The picture itself - that was evidence. She would destroy it. Why had she kept it so long?

She looked round and saw the knife that had carved her cheekbones. It was bright, and glistened. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, she would be free. She seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it. There was a cry heard, and a crash.

When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of a swimwear model, in all the wonder of her exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead woman, with a tube up her arse. She was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the liposuction machine that they recognised who it was.

'A little vanity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal,' Oscar (should have) said.

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