The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 3 -7

Chapter 3

  • “genial” “rough-mannered old bachelor” – description of Lord Fermor. This character shows the unnecessary extravagance of the upper classes “He had two large town houses, but preferred to live in chambers”, and the hypocrisy, “he was a Tory, except when the Tories were in office.”
  • Money seems like everything, yet Lord Henry suggests that when people grow older they know that. Shows the typical upper class attitude towards money.
  • Lots of background information on Dorian. His mother was Lady Margaret Devereux, a very beautiful woman who ran off with a “penniless young fellow, a mere nobody”. This accounts for Dorian’s beauty and maybe even the root of his bitterness later on in the novel, no parental figures to guide him as his mother died within a year and his father died in a “duel at Spa”. Margaret described as one of the “loveliest creatures” – similar to how Sibyl is described later on in the book.
  • Dorian is described as Lady Agatha’s latest protege, yet he is also Lord Henry’s protege, his muse.
  • Lord Henry decides to corrupt Dorian, although he has been doing so already: “Yes; he would try to be to Dorian Gray what, without knowing it, the lad was to the painter”, “He would seek to dominate him”. Shows Lord Henry’s aims, which succeed but to a much heavier extent than Lord Henry had imagined
  • Lots of discussion about America, time when many men moved to America, people are curious. It was “rather fashionable to marry Americans” and most of the upper classes at Aunt Agatha’s seem discreetly racist: “why can’t they stay in their own country?”
  • “I wished you would tell me how to become young again” – great irony as it is due to Lord Henry that Dorian will always seem young. He tells the Duchess to “repeat” her “follies” to get youth, also ironic as this seems to be exactly what Dorian does, doing evil.
  • “Of all people in the world the English have the least sense of the beauty of literature” – a slight comment, maybe retaliating to the many English critics of the novel or even pre-empting the uproar the book would cause.
  • “I would sooner come with you” Dorian is now Lord Henry’s – he is infatuated and would rather see him than Basil
  • “All I want now is to look at life” Lord Henry invites Dorian into his own life, and wishes to view Dorian who has become his new life to play with and influence.

Chapter 4

  • “Dorian Gray was reclining” – obviously comfortable in Lord Henry’s house
  • “olive-stained oak” “satinwood table” a Parisian and aesthetic description, linking to nature. Shows the fashionable tastes of Lord Henry.
  • “It is only his wife.” – She knows her place, she is second best to Lord Henry’s lovers and friends.
  • The fact that Lord Henry owns 18 photos of Dorian shows his obsession, as in those days photographs were very expensive and would have to be done professionally,
  • “She was usually in love with somebody” shows that she is not in love with Lord Henry, the marriage between them is almost like a business contract.
  • “thin lips” – the language used gives imagery of delicacy and weakness, “tortoiseshell paper-knife”
  • “If one hears bad music, it is one’s duty to drown it in conversation” a view of Lord Henry’s – he is influenced. Lady Henry realises this and says that she only hears he husbands opinions through his friends, this shows the lack of communication and love between them.
  • “Perhaps it is that they are foreigners” – Lady Henry likes foreigners, opposite view to Lord Henry and the aristocracy in the previous chapter,
  • Lady Henry seems easily impressed and produces meaningless statements: “Makes it quite cosmopolitan”
  • “looking like a bird of paradise that had been out all night in the rain” a dour image, negative, shows how she used to be beautiful but age has had an effect.
  • “Women are a decorative sex” a typical view of an aristocratic male
  • “Ah! Harry, your views terrify me” – irony as at the end Dorian terrifies Lord Henry with how he has changed.
  • “I should think The Idiot Boy, or Dumb but Innocent” very snobbish, as if a good play could not be shown in a shabby place with a “hideous Jew” at the door.
  • “This play was good enough for us” – Dorian separates the upper classes from the lower classes, as if they are better and only deserve to see classic plays
  • “with a little flower-like face, a small Greek head with plaited coils of dark brown hair” – a description not dissimilar to the description of Dorian at the beginning of the book. “There is something of a child about her”
  • Dorian’s love of Sibyl is very similar to Basil’s love of Dorian at the beginning of the book, “I wish I had not told you about Sibyl Vane”, “Sibyl Vane is sacred!” Dorian needs to see Sibyl in a play every day, even if only for “one act” rather similar to how Basil has to see Dorian daily.
  • We see why Dorian gets away with hideous crimes, because people like Dorian, “the wilful sunbeams of life – don’t commit crimes”.
  • “I must call you Prince Charming” – very infantile, childish, fanatical love, almost a fantasy, still living in one of her plays
  • “Tonight she is Imogen” – mainly talks about her in terms of a character, not in terms of Sibyl
  • “Then we must get her out of the Jew’s hands” – talks as if he is to be her saviour, saving her from the “hideous Jew” and the decrepit theatre
  • “Good artists exist simply in what they make,” seems to insinuate that Wilde exists simply in the book, almost autobiographical. These good artists are “consequently perfectly uninteresting” from Lord Henry’s view – showing his attitude towards Basil
  • “Imogen is waiting for me.” – notice that it’s not Sibyl.
  • “It made him a more interesting study” – this makes it seem as if Dorian is but a scientific experiment and that Sibyl is only a new factor that may lead to new developments
  • “One could never pay too high a price for any sensation.” – a dangerous statement that could cause a man’s downfall into immorality
  • “reminded him it was time to dress for dinner” – very much in keeping with the idea of aristocracy and extravagance
  • “The panes glowed like plates of heated metal. The sky above was like a faded rose.” – the description of the outside gives the image of danger, fire and sexuality, linking to the major themes in the novel
  • “engaged to be married to Sibyl Vane” – Dorian tells Lord Henry first, trusts him (like Basil did when he let him dine with Dorian). Dorian is engaged to marry Sibyl, not Imogen or Juliet, she is referred to by her real name.

Chapter 5

  • “sitting in the one armchair that their dingy sitting-room contained” – detail of the homes of the lower classes are lacking, probably due to the fact that Wilde literally didn’t know the conditions they lived in, and thus made assumptions, “The flies buzzed around the table, and crawled over the stained cloth”
  • ” ‘I am so happy!’ she repeated, ‘and you must be happy too!’ ” Sibyl has a very childlike view on life and happiness, very dreamy, she “pouts” when she doesn’t understand, an infantile mannerism. Later on – “Her little feet pattered” – constantly referred to as a child.
  • “thin bismuth-whitened hands” gives a negative portrayal of the lower classes, not eating much, not cleaning the stage make up off of themselves etc
  • “Prince Charming rules life for us now” – shows her infatuation with Dorian, he has complete manipulative control of her now.
  • “though I feel so much beneath him” – even she knows that in social respects she is not worthy to be married to him,
  • “But it only pains you because you loved him so much” – innocent and naivety, she doesn’t think there could be any other reason for her mother to not wish to speak of Sibyl’s father, couldn’t imagine any dark secrets.
  • “thick-set of figure,” “clumsy” – negative and uneducated portrayal of James Vane, almost seems like an animal, his description doesn’t seem to connect with his caring and protective personality.
  • “She mentally elevated her son to the dignity of an audience” – all that Mrs Vane thinks about is the stage and theatre, which is shown through Wilde constantly referring to her and her thoughts using theatrical terms
  • “horrid London” – he doesn’t want to live there anymore, he looks forward to a new and prosperous future
  • “Only swell people go to the Park” – the Park is a place that he upper classes go to ‘be seen’, and so James thinks that he is too “shabby” to go, as he isn’t dressed in finery
  • “Don’t let her come to any harm.” James is very sensible, can see what might happen, he is very protective.
  • Mrs Vane is only concerned with who he is, as he’s “probably a member of the aristocracy” – and all she wants is to make an appropriate match for Sibyl, especially for financial reasons.
  • “James Vane bit his lip. ‘Watch over Sibyl mother,’ ” he repeats his warning, and seems very like Basil. James bites his lip, something that Basil does many times, and he warns Mrs Vane about trouble that may come, like Basil warns Dorian about the troubles that may come if he lets Lord Henry influence him. Both James and Basil are right.
  • “This young dandy who was making love to her could mean her no good” – James realises exactly what Dorian is like.
  • “Someday you will meet him” – irony as he does meet him when he returns, to attempt to murder him.
  • “He wants to enslave you.” Is this an interpretation of what marriage is for women?
  • “Someday you will be in love yourself” Sibyl treats this like a new character in a play
  • “I shall kill him.” This threat is almost like the second oath sworn, Dorian swears that he’d give his soul to be young forever and James swears that he will kill Dorian if he ever does wrong to Sibyl. In both cases the scenario comes true, Dorian gets his youth and also does wrong to Sibyl, but James gets the chance to kill Dorian but doesn’t as he has never seen him.
  • “kill him like  dog” – uses very dramatic language, the most dramatic out of all the family which is ironic as he is the only one who doesn’t take part in the theatre, he hates that his sister and mother have to be in plays.

Chapter 6

  • “I suppose you have heard the news, Basil?” Lord Henry breaks the news to Basil, showing a shift in relations, Dorian trusts Lord Henry more. Lord Henry telling Basil could be a form of mockery.
  • “I have a distinct remembrance of being married” – dismisses marriage, it is a mechanical activity, expecting to marry
  • “If you want to make him marry this girl tell him that,” Lord Henry seems to be very accurate in psychology.
  • “I don’t want to see Dorian tied to some vile creature,” – ironic as Dorian becomes the vile creature in the end
  • “she is beautiful” Lord Henry only sees the surface
  • “Your portrait of him has quickened his appreciation of the personal appearances of other people.” – here Lord Henry seems to blame Basil for Dorian’s change
  • “silly infatuation” treats Dorian like a child.
  • “They are forced to have more than one life” – Lord Henry has a life with his wife, lover, friends, aristocrats, business partners etc,
  • “You don’t mean a single word of that, Harry;” Basil and Lord Henry act like parents to Dorian, Basil always thinks highly of Lord Henry, and is very protective and maternal towards Dorian.
  • “the one thing I’ve been looking for all my life” – Dorian has probably been looking for companionship for most of his life as he had no parent figures, no initial companionship
  • “You let Harry know” Basil gently chides Dorian for not telling him.
  • Sibyl described similarly to Dorian once again, using nature, giving the ideas about the aesthetic movement: “moss-coloured velvet”, “cinnamon sleeves”
  • “kissed Juliet on the mouth” – still refers to Sibyl as character.
  • Dorian has a romantic view of marriage, it is not a “business transaction”.
  • “His nature is too fine for that” – sheer admiration of Dorian, yet irony as his nature isn’t fine at all!
  • “But then the middles classes are not modern.” – a typical upper class view of a lower class
  • “I cannot understand how anyone can wish to shame the thing he loves” irony as Dorian shames Sybil, the reason he does so is the change in him due to Lord Henry, instigated by his “wrong, fascinating, poisonous, delightful theories.”
  • “Beautiful sins” are the “privilege of the rich” – immoral view on how actions work, seems to think that because he is rich he can be immoral.
  • “I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit” another interesting statement as Lord Henry is the reason the painting becomes a representation of all the sins that Dorian does commit
  • “Still, your wonderful girl may thrill me” – becomes apparent that Lord Henry may want to corrupt Sibyl so that Dorian won’t marry her.
  • “there is only room for two” Lord Henry separates the “painter” from him and Dorian.
  • “He could not bear this marriage, and yet it seemed to him to be better than many other things that might have happened.” It is better for Dorian to marry Sibyl than begin an affair with Lord Henry.
  • “blurred to his eyes” once again Basil is crying as he has lost Dorian.

Chapter 7

  • The Jew is described with language that makes him seem corrupt, and Dorian dislikes him, despite the fact that he will become corrupt. Lord Henry “rather liked him” which makes sense as he is corrupt.
  • “he had came to look for Miranda and had been met by Caliban” – he had come to see the beauty of Sibyl but had been met by the ugliness of the Jew.
  • “These common, rough people, with their coarse faces and brutal gestures, become quite different when she is on the stage” Sibyl is elevated to a Godlike figure, being able to transform even the lowest of classes into decently behaved individuals
  • “The same flesh and blood as oneself! Oh, I hope not!” Lord Henry cannot bear to even think of being the same as the working class
  • “A faint blush” in Lord Henry’s eyes she is once again described in an aesthetic way, similar to Dorian’s descriptions, as looks are all Lord Henry considers
  • “were spoken in a thoroughly artificial manner” – her acting has grown false now she knows real love
  • Ironic that the first time Dorian sees the real Sibyl is the first time in the play Romeo sees Juliet.
  • “She was a complete failure” – let Dorian down in front of his friends
  • “They got restless” even the uneducated lower classes could tell that she wasn’t good and grew bored, the opposite effect of what Dorian had promised.
  • “The hot tears came to his eyes. His lips trembled, and, rushing to the back of the box, he leaned up against the wall, hiding his face in his hands.” a very adolescent reaction, an immature tantrum.
  • “You have no idea what I suffered.” Dorian is selfish when he confronts Sibyl, only thinks of himself, yet he thinks highly of his friends, putting them first, “My friends were bored. I was bored.” – very blunt with her.
  • “you freed my soul from prison. You taught me what reality really is.” no longer wants to act as she can understand love now, cannot merely act it anymore.
  • “Prince of life!” Similar to how Dorian revered Sibyl, here she reveres him,
  • “You have killed my love” – he never loved Sibyl, only really loved the characters and the mannerisms of her acting.
  • “a shudder ran through him” when she touched him, maybe he realised his homosexuality and realised he doesn’t find a woman’s touch appealing.
  • “You have thrown it all away” – she has thrown her life and talents, the “gold” of her life for Dorian’s love.
  • “I will never think of you. I will never mention your name.” Dorian is callous and cold to Sibyl, “Acting! I leave that to you. You do it so well.”
  • “a trampled flower” now her love has gone she is still described like nature, but similarly to Lady Henry, in a dour and negative way
  • “crouched on the floor like a wounded thing” – she has nothing left now, makes her seem helpless, like a child or an animal.
  • “looked down at her” – shows his bitter attitude, also looking down due to her class.
  • “lines of cruelty round the mouth” – he has done wrong and thus the painting has changed, first supernatural happening
  • “Had he been cruel?” Starts to regret, showing that his conscience is still intact.
  • “Why had such a soul been given to him?” Doesn’t take responsibility for his cruelty, blames God for giving him a soul that could do that.
  • “She was nothing to him now.” Bitter – tries to dismiss.
  • “Would it teach him to loathe his own soul” – irony as it does at the end.
  • “But he would not sin” – swears another oath, to make amends with Sibyl, “try to love her again” but only out of duty and respectability. He never fulfils this oath however, they are but false promises to right his wrongs
  • Irony as he talks about seeing Sibyl in the morning, yet she is probably already dead by the time he thinks this.

Thanks for reading,


The Preface all the way to Chapter 2!

So here are some notes on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ from the Preface through to Chapter 2! Hope these help if you’re studying ‘DG’ too!

There will be references to the WHOLE of the book so if you haven’t finished the book and don’t want the ending spoiled then read no further!!


  • The preface is basically a retaliation to the critics of the book, with Wilde’s observations on art and the meanings of art.
  • “To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim” – This shows immediately that this book was not meant to be about Wilde. Many people suggested that the book was near autobiographical.
  • “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming” – Thus those who claim the book had latent homosexual messages are themselves the ones thinking the ‘corrupt’ thoughts, as they are the ones who noticed the homosexual messages that were ‘not meant to be there’
  • Wilde speaks of the ‘dislike of Realism’ which he suggests is like “the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” Caliban is an ugly and ignorant character from ‘The Tempest’, and thus Caliban would be upset to see how he really looks, just how the people of the 19th century would be upset to see how they really act.
  • Wilde also speaks of the ‘dislike of Romanticism’ which he suggests is like “the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.” This suggests that people disliked Romanticism as they thought it was too much like fantasy, and couldn’t see anything of real life in it, however this was obviously the point of Romantic works.
  • “No artist desires to prove anything” – thus Wilde never intended to offend or insult anyone by the themes of the book that were shocking at the time.
  • “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” – Again Wilde shows how the homosexual themes were laid very deep under ‘symbol’ and thus if the critics dug that far down then it’s their own fault if they disliked what they read. The findings of the critics reflects the mind of the the readers not the mind of Wilde, as THEY interpreted it that way, he didn’t present it openly.
  • “All art is quite useless” – art is there to be admired only, no deeper meaning is necessary, reflecting the ideas of the aesthetic movement of the time.

Chapter 1:

  • This chapter opens with artistic artisan imagery, especially of nature: “rich odour of roses”, “light summer wind”, “heavy scent of the lilac”, “more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.” Gives idea of Eden, and thus later on Lord Henry tempts the innocent Dorian out of this heavenly place, and this reflects the fall of man, the first sin, and the tempting snake. Talk of nature seems ironic in a place that is so full of art.
  • “The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.” gives an industrial feel to London, the word “organ” especially giving the idea of machinery.
  • “Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.” This former scandal lends itself almost perfectly to the ending where Basil gets murdered. It is merely assumed that he has disappeared again, just like the last time.
  • “a smile of pleasure passed across his face” – is this a smile of pleasure because of his masterpiece or due to Dorian himself?
  • “You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar.” immediately shows his judging and opinionated nature
  • “No, I won’t send it anywhere.” The painting was painted for himself alone, just like he wants Dorian for himself alone.
  • “thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy, opium-tainted cigarette.” this sentence gives a sense of heaviness and effort to everything.
  • “I have put too much of myself into it.” – Does this phrase also relate to the novel itself? Has Wilde put too much of his own sexuality in the themes of the book? Is the book almost autobiographical in nature? The painting could condemn Basil like the book eventually condemns Wilde.
  • “we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.” – Our lives are in the hands of ‘the gods’, Wilde is almost saying that if he is homosexual then it is God’s fault, not his.
  • “When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them.” This is similar to Sybil later on, who only ever refers to Dorian as “Prince Charming”
  • “the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.” Lord Henry is a very witty and cynical person
  • “I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.” Basil always thinks the best of everyone, Lord Henry is the immoral tempter in the book, yet Basil has nothing bad to say about him.
  • “every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.” This could reflect Wilde’s opinions being reflected in the book. The attitude of this passage seems to contradict the preface directly, suggesting that art reveals the artist.
  • “With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious academicians” – Basil doesn’t seem to like the times he’s living in, making such comments on society.
  • “Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty,” appears rude, but Basil thinks his cynicism is a pose
  • “oh, yes, plays the piano–or is it the violin, dear Mr. Gray?” Dorian presented as educated
  • “I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.” Seems very shallow in his opinions of people,
  • “My elder brother won’t die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else.” His speech is almost always orientated with the aim to shock.
  • ‘ “Tell me more about Mr. Dorian Gray. How often do you see him?” “Every day. I couldn’t be happy if I didn’t see him every day. He is absolutely necessary to me.” ‘ Basil seems obsessed and besotted with Dorian.

Chapter 2

  • “As they entered they saw Dorian Gray. He was seated at the piano, with his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann’s “Forest Scenes.” “You must lend me these, Basil,” he cried. “I want to learn them. They are perfectly charming.” “, the fact that Dorian has his back to them causes suspense. The inclusion of the “Forest Scenes” gives a sense of nature and innocence.
  • ” “That entirely depends on how you sit to-day, Dorian.” “Oh, I am tired of sitting, and I don’t want a life-sized portrait of myself,” answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stool in a wilful, petulant manner.” Basil seems like a parent chiding Dorian, and Dorian seems like a sulky child throwing a tantrum.
  • When Dorian sees Lord Henry a “faint blush coloured his cheeks”, giving Dorian a feminine character and showing that he is already slightly attracted to Lord Henry
  • “I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it.” shows that Dorian is essentially good but is weak minded and willed and this will be weak willed.
  • ” “That is very horrid to her, and not very nice to me,” answered Dorian, laughing.” Dorian is shocked but amused by Lord Henry’s quips about Lady Agatha
  • Dorian described like a young Adonis/Narcissus and this shows why he is trusted by many and why he gets away with things: “Yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candour of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity.”
  • ” “Would you think it awfully rude of me if I asked you to go away?” Lord Henry smiled and looked at Dorian Gray. “Am I to go, Mr. Gray?” he asked. “Oh, please don’t, Lord Henry. I see that Basil is in one of his sulky moods, and I can’t bear him when he sulks. Besides, I want you to tell me why I should not go in for philanthropy.” ” Basil is very protective of Dorian, and Lord Henry knows that he can use Dorian to manipulate Basil. Dorian is already fascinated by Lord Henry.
  • “If Dorian wishes it, of course you must stay. Dorian’s whims are laws to everybody, except himself.” Basil is battling Lord Henry for Dorian’s affection.
  • “He has a very bad influence over all his friends, with the single exception of myself.” Warning Dorian Gray subtly about the influences of Henry, and then as if on cue Henry begins influencing Dorian with a long speech, “Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed.”
  • “People are afraid of themselves, nowadays.” reflects how people are afraid to be themselves, especially if they’re homosexual.
  • Basil is almost always referred to as “the painter” in the rest of this chapter as that is now all he is, Dorian’s affections have been taken by Lord Henry.
  • In that day many people would be Christian, yet Lord Henry talks about the powers of the “brain” – showing his scientific and anti-religious side.
  • “Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them!” This shows how much of an influence Lord Henry has had over Dorian, as his “mere words” have gotten him into a confused stupor, contemplating life and death and all in between.
  • “Why had it been left for a stranger to reveal him to himself? He had known Basil Hallward for months, but the friendship between them had never altered him.” Lord Henry has now shown Dorian that he is homosexual. Dorian wonders why he’s attracted to Lord Henry but not Basil.
  • Henry starts to show Dorian that beauty and youth are the only things worth having, saying it would be “unbecoming” to get sunburnt, and that “youth is the one thing worth having.” He continues to talk to Dorian, persuading him that he needs to live while he has youth: “But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it,”
  • Lord Henry exaggerates the effects of aging to show Dorian how youth is the most vital thing: “Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!”
  • “A furry bee came and buzzed round it for a moment. Then it began to scramble all over the oval stellated globe of the tiny blossoms.” Very childish language ‘furry bee’ to represent the youthful and innocent nature of Dorian. There are sexual overtones however as the bee is pollinating.
  • When Dorian sees the picture he has a shocking realisation: “Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.” This description is very like Henry’s over-dramatic interpretation of what aging does, showing how much Dorian has been influenced.
  • Dorian still seems childish: “a mist of tears” and Basil is concerned, ” “Don’t you like it?” cried Hallward at last, stung a little by the lad’s silence,”
  • Dorian expresses how the Dorian in the painting will never be older “than this particular day of June”, this day could have been the summer solstice, a day of magic, which could explain the supernatural element. He states that he “would give everything” for the painting to grow old and himself to stay young forever. He then states “I would give my soul” which seals the deal and is reminiscent of Faustus.
  • Dorian seems to become bitter and jealous of the painting and starts to think that Basil only likes him for his art, “I am less to you than your ivory Hermes or your silver Faun. You will like them always. How long will you like me? Till I have my first wrinkle, I suppose.” Art is immortal and man is not, and Dorian realises this. He grows rather over-dramatic, almost like a hormonal teenager when he states “When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.”
  • Basil blames Henry, ” “This is your doing, Harry,” said the painter bitterly.” and Henry defends himself. Basil has already resigned himself to the fact that Dorian has changed.
  • Basil goes to stab the painting, despite the fact that it’s his masterpiece – this shows how much he loves Dorian. However Dorian realises that there’s life in the painting and stops him, ” “Don’t, Basil, don’t!” he cried. “It would be murder!” “. Dorian is in love with the painting as he is now vain and loves himself.
  • Dorian pours out the tea, a woman’s role in that day and age, showing his feminine nature
  • We can see that Lord Henry is not a loyal person when he discusses cancelling his meal with his old friend, “I have promised to dine at White’s, but it is only with an old friend,”
  • Basil calls the painting the real Dorian, as the painting was painted before Dorian was negatively influenced by Lord Henry. Basil bites his lip, something he does constantly in this chapter as he is worried that Dorian is being stolen from him by Lord Henry. Basil then explains that Dorian and the painting are alike in “appearance” – suggesting that Dorian’s soul has been tainted by Lord Henry’s influence.
  • Basil begs Dorian not to go as he is besotted with him and cannot bear the idea of losing him: “He won’t like you the better for keeping your promises. He always breaks his own. I beg you not to go.” Lord Henry looks on “with an amused smile” as he has caused this argument.
  • When Dorian and Lord Henry leave together a “look of pain” came into Basil’s face, as he has been rejected and has lost Dorian.

This was a long blog post but I hope you got something out of it! I know I did!!

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Oscar Wilde was a playwright, poet and novelist born in 1854 in Dublin. He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wilde to a prosperous mother and father. His father was a great doctor, who spent most of his time in London and was thus absent for some of Wilde’s early years and his mother was a poet and Irish Nationalist. Wilde had the best education possible and was obviously very bright. He was an impressive linguist, he was taught French and German and also had a working knowledge of Italian and Ancient Greek. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and graduated in 1874.

Wilde received a scholarship so that he could study further at Magdalen College in Oxford. At Oxford Wilde made his first attempts at creative writing. In 1878 (the year of his graduation) his poem “Ravenna” won a prize for the best English poem composed by an Oxford undergraduate.

After graduating from Oxford, Wilde moved to London to live with his friend, Frank Miles, a popular portraitist among London’s high society. He continued to focus on writing poetry, publishing his first collection, “Poems”, in 1881. The book established Wilde as an up-and-coming writer. In 1882 he embarked on a tour of America, lecturing on a variety of subjects from “The English Renaissance” to “Decorative Art.” He delivered 140 lectures in only 9 months.

Through his lectures and his early poetry Wilde established himself as a leading member of the aesthetic movement (I have another blog explaining the concepts behind the aesthetic movement). In 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd and continued to have two children. He wrote beautiful fairy stories for his children and in 1888 published a collection of them, “The Happy Prince and Other Tales”. In 1891 he published his only novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I will be writing much more about this novel in the coming weeks as this is the novel I’m studying for AS Level. The book was received with negative criticism which surprised Wilde, so he wrote a preface and extra chapters to retaliate, hoping that the new additions would improve people’s opinions of the book.

Wilde wrote a variety of plays, such as “A Woman of No Importance” published in 1893, “ An Ideal Husband” published in 1895, and his most famous play: “The Importance of Being Earnest” which was published in 1895. Around this time Wilde was enjoying a homosexual affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Lord Douglas’ father then publicly accused Wilde of sodomy (non-procreative sex) and Wilde was arrested on the grounds of “gross indecency” in 1895. He was kept in Reading prison for two years.

After he was released he moved to France and wrote a poem about his time in prison “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” in 1898. In late 1900 Wilde developed meningitis and on the 29th of November called for a priest and was baptised into the Catholic Church. On the 30th of November he died, and his last words (one of my favourite quotes) were:

“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.”

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A variety of things to relate to Dorian Gray


A Dandy is a man who has the belief that good looks, fine clothes and refined language are very important.


In ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Lord Henry is a Dandy, seeming to hold the view that people’s physical appearance are most important – and can somehow define their personality and how they think:

“Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me, but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. I feel quite sure of that. He is some brainless beautiful creature..”

Lord Henry’s advice and thoughts turn Dorian into a Dandy, caring only for his physical appearance, so much that he could trade his soul to be youthful forever:

“If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that-for that-I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!”

William Morris and the Aesthetics Movement

William Morris was an artist famous for his floral patterns, used especially in wallpaper and curtains etc. He was one of the figures in the Aesthetics Movement, a movement concentrating more on aesthetics (looking good) than social/political themes. In essence it supported art for art’s sake, art to be pretty rather than express a view.   


This was not only in art, this was in all forms – literature, dance, etc, meaning that many things became meaningless – it’s only meaning was to look good.

In ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Dorian’s only concern is to ‘look good’ – and be aesthetic and youthful for as long as possible. As well as this Wilde portrays his opinion of art in the preface. This seems to support the aesthetic movement, saying that “An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them.” This suggests that the “beautiful things” need no meaning, their beauty is enough without themes or back-stories behind them. Wilde also states that “No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.” – suggesting that there is no need to prove beauty with an overarching social theme etc, it is good enough without it. Wilde seems to be of the impression that good art is “useless” – and that creating art is the only good thing that is useless: “The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.”

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‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ under a multitude of headings


In the novel women are quite often referred to as inferior, so it is obviously not feminist, quite the opposite. This is established early on with Lord Henry saying that “no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex” suggesting that women are but playthings for men’s enjoyment – a decoration to spice up life. The main female character is Sybil, who seems weak and dependent totally on her “Prince Charming” Dorian Gray. She doesn’t seem to have any personality at the beginning, assuming only the role of the character she is playing in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Later on whenever she became herself she was obedient to Dorian, doing whatever he wanted. When Dorian insults her acting she feels that there is no reason to live, and thus commits suicide. This shows the powerlessness of women, and how Wilde may have thought them inferior. However Dorian is obviously very in love with Sybil, when he first talks to Lord Henry about her he has nothing but praise for her: “lips that were like the petals of a rose,” – this could be seen as an extension of what Lord Henry was saying though, Dorian only really compliments her looks and her singing, and doesn’t really know her – showing that he wants her in a more decorative sense.


In the novel there are many examples of the class system, the opposite of Marxism, especially with Lord Henry’s high class friends, and then the lower class poverty in the East End. Dorian’s status was also based on his good looks and wealth, showing how the rich (not the clever) were high in society. Dorian exploits his status by controlling the poor, such as Sybil – and believed he could get away with immoral actions due to his high status. The novel suggests that life and society revolves around wealth & money, something that completely goes against what Marxism stands for.


When looking up the subjects of post-colonialist literature I found that one of the subjects is “Misuse of power and exploitation” which I found related to the novel easily. Dorian misuses his power and exploits Sybil, controlling her. The book was written during the time of the colonies, in Victorian times, so this could even be interpreted as referring to Britain controlling a large portion of the world.

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**FUN FACT** I used to have a grey gerbil that had the name Dorian. That is all.