The Picture Of Dorian Gray
scene of the novel introduces the three most important characters. Lord Henry Wotton is visiting his friend
Basil Hallward, an artist, who is painting a picture of an attractive young man
by the name of Dorian Gray. Dorian is
immediately attracted to Lord Henry and his strange philosophy of life, one of
which states that the only way to overcome a temptation is to succumb to it. Listening to Lord Henry begins to corrupt
Dorian and in a desperate moment, he wishes with all his strength that the picture,
which Basil had just completed, would grow old instead of him.
begins to explore this newfound philosophy and falls in love with a young
actress, Sibyl Vane, who performs Shakespeare in a shoddy theatre on the east
side of London. After one of her performances, Dorian
approaches her and very soon afterwards, he proposes marriage to her. Sybil however only knows his first name and
refuses to refer to him by any name other than Prince Charming. After Sybil informs her mother and brother of
her impending marriage, her brother James cautions her and says that if ?Prince
Charming? ever harms her, he will kill him.
invites Basil and Lord Henry to see Sybil in a production of Romeo and
Juliet, but her acting is horrible.
After the show, Dorian meets her and she claims that since she has
experienced real love, she can no longer act it. Dorian is enraged, claims that her beauty
only came from her ability to act, and promptly disowns her. When he arrives home that night, it seems to
him that his portrait has changed and he begins to realize that his wish had
morning Lord Henry arrives at Dorian?s house to tell him that Sybil has killed
herself. Dorian is somewhat shocked, but
not altogether disturbed by this information.
He then continues his downward spiral and partakes in every sin and
debauchery forbidden to man. The story
eclipses the next eighteen years giving no sordid details, but rather leaving
Dorian?s sins to the imagination of the reader.
night, Basil arrives at Dorian?s house and confronts him about the rumors that
had been circulating about his vile and wicked ways. Dorian offers no excuse and offers to show
Basil his soul, the portrait that he had moved to Dorian?s old nursery. The portrait is now scarred almost beyond the
point of recognition. Basil sees it and
is horrified; Dorian becomes angered at the fate that he believes Basil has
inflicted on him and murders him. He
then blackmails a former friend, a chemist, to remove the body.
refuge from his crime in an opium den where he runs into a friend and then a
former lover who calls him Prince Charming.
James Vane is also in this opium den and follows Dorian into the
night. He threatens to kill Dorian for
what he did to his sister eighteen years ago, but Dorian manages to save
himself. He asks James to look at him
under the light of a streetlamp. Since
Dorian looks not a day over twenty, James believes he has the wrong man and
lets Dorian walk free. Dorian?s former
lover tells James that the man he had just cornered was, in fact, Dorian Gray
so James proceeds to track him down.
while he is staying at his country home with several guests, Dorian sees James
outside the window. The next day during
a game-shooting party, James, who has been stalking Dorian, is accidentally
shot and killed. Dorian returns to London
and claims to Lord Henry that he will begin to reform his life. Henry scoffs at it and says that he is only
doing the right thing because that produces a different type of pleasure. Dorian disbelieves him and asks him to leave.
to think that perhaps the portrait is beginning to change back to what it used
to be, the beautiful young man who was as pure as snow. He goes up to the room and pulls off the
curtain that has covered it for eighteen years only to realize that the picture
is now even more wretched than before.
Dorian concludes that only a full confession would absolve him of his
sins, but he lacks the guilt to justify it and fears the consequences it would
bring. He resolves to destroy the only
remnant of his conscience, the picture.
He picks up the knife that killed Basil and thrusts it into the
painting. The servants hear a scream and
call the police who find a bloated, disfigured man dead with a knife in his
heart and a pristine picture of Dorian Gray as he had looked eighteen years