• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Picture of Dorian Gray - plot summary

Extracts from this document...


The Picture of Dorian Gray Before the Book: * The preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a series of aphorisms that deal with beauty, art, artists, and critics. They talk about beauty and how it should be admired without trying to find fault or meaning in it. One of the lines that most stuck me was, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all" (Wilde 2). I know this book received a lot of criticism when it was first published, so this quote from Wilde sustains these notions. Wilde also stresses that one should find beautiful meanings in beautiful things, but that trying to find a deeper meaning is dangerous. From the preface and what I know about the book, it is going to deal with a lot with the purpose of art, hedonism, and superficiality. * I know the novel is about a man who longs to stay young and beautiful forever. It was scandalous when it came out. I also know Oscar Wilde wrote mainly plays and short stories. He was put on trial for reasons I do not know and exiled. Chapters 1-4 * Summary: The novel starts off with Basil Hallward, a reclusive painter, entertaining his friend Lord Henry Wotton. Lord Henry admires one of Basil's latest paintings and asks who the subject is. Basil tells him that it is Dorian Gray and goes on to tell Lord Henry how they met. Basil described Dorian as the most beautiful man on Earth. ...read more.


When Sybil loses her ability to act, Dorian no longer sees anything of great value in her. His cruelty towards her marks the beginning of Dorian losing his sole, as evident in the first change of the painting. Lord Henry continues to be a bad influence on Dorian. The main women we meet in these chapters are Sybil Vane and Victoria Wotton. Wilde makes both of them simple, one-dimensional characters, as the other women characters introduced up to chapter nine. Sybil is melodramatic and na�ve. She falls in love with "Prince Charming" very quickly and does not think twice about marrying him. * Language: One of the most important symbols is introduced in theses chapters, the portrait. The portrait is the main symbol at work here. The portrait of Dorian Gray becomes a visible representation of Dorian's soul, which becomes uglier with every crime he commits. It becomes a kind of conscience. * Memorable Passage: "For there would be a real pleasure in watching it. He would be able to follow his mind into its secret places. This portrait would be to him the most magical of mirrors. As it had revealed to him his own body, so it would reveal to him his own soul" (Wilde 84). This quote is important because it the moment that Dorian realizes what the painting represents and seems to accept it. It is also when the readers becomes certain that the painting will serve as a representation of Dorian's soul and conscious. * Questions: How exactly did the painting become a mirror for Dorian's conscious? ...read more.


This passage shows that Dorian is not interested in forgiveness, but rather in forgetting his sins. The notions presented in this passage come up again when Dorian realizes the hypocrisy in wanting to forget instead of forgiveness. But Dorian cannot forget, and it leads to his downfall. * Questions: How can Lord Henry be so unaware of what is going on with Dorian, especially after Dorian confesses the murder to him? After Finishing the Book: * I really liked the book. The imagery was especially great. Wilde takes the time to paint detailed pictures that add to the mood very well. Some parts of the plot bothered me, but that's probably attributed to my realism. All in all, I wouldn't change anything. The novel isn't meant to be realistic and gets its message across better with the mysterious and menacing air that the portrait adds. * The title The Picture of Dorian Gray refers to one of the most important objects and symbols in the novel. It becomes the vessel which makes Dorian's seemingly eternal youth become possible. It also serves as the representation as Dorian's conscious and soul as he becomes more and more corrupt. * One of the themes in the novel is the purpose of art. Most characters, including Basil and Lord Henry, state that art should be unconscious, ideal, and remote; something meant to just be admired. But the portrait of Dorian plays a much bigger role in the novel. Wilde explores the purpose of art in his novel. Another theme of the novel is the superficiality of society. Even though Dorian gains horrible reputations, he still accepted into society because of his beauty and youth. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Oscar Wilde section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Oscar Wilde essays

  1. In the play 'The Importance of Being Earnest", Oscar Wilde Presents a Society That ...

    For example, as we get into the first part of the book Lady Bracknell thinks to have a 'High Tea' of sorts with her friend before coming to her relative's to enjoy cucumber sandwiches she knows won't have been bought for 'ready money' which she already expects her money troubled associate to try to pay for everything with.

  2. In the Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde portrays through the painting the contrast ...

    'To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances" (Wilde 22). Lord Henry explains to Dorian in this quote that beauty is of utmost importance in society and Dorian needs to hold onto his beauty as long as he can.

  1. A Picture Of Dorian Gray - from the Perspective of the Picture. (with commentary)

    I need this mouth! Hurry! There. That's it. And... done! Mr-Philchard! Hey! Maybe that isn't your name. Man! Sir! Please talk to me! Euuughhhh. What is that taste! That's revolting, it's paint again! Why can I taste paint?! Man! Man! Why won't you answer me! Am I not making any sound?

  2. discuss the ways in which Wilde presents the characters of Jack and Algernon in ...

    It is also worth noting that Algernon eats all the sandwiches before Lady Bracknell even arrives which then indicates that he is quite a greedy and selfish character as he is only really caring about his food desires. But it is the arrival of Jack when we really begin to

  1. Discuss the Character Of Lord Henry And His Impact On Dorian Gray.

    that the language used in this chapter by Lord Henry supports this notion. Wotton?s choice of words is aggressive yet strangely spiritual and, at times, contain religious connotations; he refers to returning ?to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal? which was an age, during the years around the turn

  2. How is the role of love dealt with in "An Ideal Husband"?

    Her love revolves around being morally upright and pure. As long as Sir Robert fulfilled these conditions, she loved him but forsaked him, when he told her of his moment of weakness. LADY CHILTERN: ?I will love you always, because you will always be worthy of love.? Lady Chiltern?s love, like her, is rigid and uncompromising.

  1. Discuss how Wilde presents the relationship between Dorian and Basil Hallward here and at ...

    The word ?pure? conjures connotations of an untainted and morally good as if nothing could ever affect the beauty that Dorian has and in Basil?s eyes, that is all Dorian has and will ever be; a beautiful piece of Art, beautifully internally and externally.

  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Considering Lord Henrys views, what have we learnt about ...

    Dorian is quite aware of the effect his looks have on the people around him however Lord Henry tells him that someday he will be ugly and he will understand what he is talking about. When Lord Henry tries to enlighten Dorian on how beautiful and youthful he is, Dorian

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work