The book was, as usual, a bit different. While Lord Henry still didn't seem to be a good guy, he wasn't the quintessential bad guy either. He simply seemed to have his own ideas on life and experience and was glad to make those thoughts known, which didn't seem to be the case in the movie where his goal seemed to be corruption of innocence.
In Oscar Wilde's version, Dorian Gray is a bored gentleman whom everyone adores. He is beautiful, innocent, and has a personality that draws everyone he meets to him. Life comes easy. While he is having a painting done of himself, the artist introduces to him Lord Henry Wotton whose world view opens Dorian's eyes to his own beauty and youth, and the impermanence of it. When Dorian makes a wish to always look as he does in the painting, he makes a proverbial pact with the devil and suddenly no sin can touch Dorian's physical beauty. But what of his soul? Dorian soon realizes that the painting doesn't look as it once did. There's an ugliness developing in it, a sneer and a look of cruelty. Dorian begins to suspect that although his beauty remains, the painting reflects his trueness, and soon discovers what happens when you gain the whole world, but lose your soul.
It is a story with a meaning and valuable point, and in my opinion would do the teenagers of the world today more of a service than a lot of what is considered "good reading" on the best sellers list. That's probably quixotical of me though so I digress and leave you with one of Lord Henry's many interesting theories on life and goodness.
"To be good is to be in harmony with one's self" he replied, touching the thin stem of his glass with his pale, fine-pointed fingers. "Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others. One's own life--that is the important thing. As for the lives of one's neighbors, if on wishes to be a prig or a Puritan, one can flaunt one's moral views about them, but they are not one's concern. Besides, individualism has really the higher aim. Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one's age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality."
The Picture of Dorian Gray