- Term Papers and Free Essays

Picture Of Dorian Gray

Essay by   •  December 6, 2010  •  2,250 Words (9 Pages)  •  2,616 Views

Essay Preview: Picture Of Dorian Gray

Report this essay
Page 1 of 9

posted August 28, 2007 08:23 PM Edit/Delete Post Reply With Quote The story of "The Picture of Dorian Grey" by Oscar Wilde begins with Basil Hallward, a painter in the Victorian era, talking with a friend in the garden outside his home. The friend is Lord Henry Wotton, a hedonistic man with a silver tongue and sharp wit. Basil is telling him about a new subject that has taken over his painting Dorian Grey, a young man who has unsurpassed beauty, the innocence of youth, and wealth. Basil fears that his love of the man borders on idolatry, which Henry laughs at. Henry was never concerned by sin, seeing it only as a way to receive pleasure faster. Lord Henry is fascinated by Basil's description of Dorian and asks to meet him, since he is to be arriving soon to sit for a portrait. Against Basil's better judgment, he allows Henry to stay. When Dorian arrives, and sits Basil is completely absorbed in the work of painting telling Henry to keep the lad entertained so he will not tire of sitting. Lord Henry proceeds to do so by telling Gray about how youth and beauty are all important, how it is impossible to keep it, and while he still had it he should try to experience all the pleasures of the world, especially the pleasures of the body and its senses. The portrait is by far Basil's best work ever, but upon seeing it Dorian is upset that it will stay as beautiful as the day it was painted and his beauty and youth will be spent. In his grief he said that he would give his soul, if only the painting would bear the marring of time instead. Feeling that the painting shows too much his idolatry for Dorian Grey, Basil offers the painting to Dorian so that he will not be so upset. Dorian accepts it woefully.

Over the next few weeks Dorian and Lord Henry become quite inseparable. Henry finds it fascinating at how he can impose his own perceptions and ideas on Dorian with such ease. Dorian begins to live a sinful life dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. Shortly after, he falls in love with a young actress named Sybil Vane, seeing her as the supreme form of beauty as she is the heroine of every Shakespearian play she performs in. She also falls madly in love with him, referring to him only as "Prince Charming" to her family and friends. Her brother, James Vane, who is about to leave to find his fortune in Australia, warns her that with the higher class love is short and fleeting and promised that if any harm came to her from this "Prince Charming" he would not rest until he had killed him. Unfortunately, when Sybil felt true love she could no longer pretend the fake love she was supposed to feel on stage. Appalled after a bad performance Dorian met her backstage and broke off their engagement. While Sybil lay on the floor crying, Dorian returned to his home and by chance looked at his portrait. It had changed. Where before there was an enchanting smile there was now an ugly sneer. Upset, but rationalizing it must be a trick of the light, Dorian goes to bed. Upon waking, Dorian remembers what he thought he saw last night and looks again. It is true, his portrait sneers back at him. Realizing his prayer has come true he vows to make things right with Sybil and writes her a lengthy love letter. This is interrupted soon by the visit of Lord Henry with news that Sybil Vane is dead. Being the dramatic type, she poisoned herself in her grief. Unable to make amends for his cruelty, Dorian accepts Lord Henry's view of Sybil's death as a truly romantic gesture and to feel no responsibility for it. After Lord Henry leaves Dorian decides it will not do to have his very soul on display and moves the portrait of himself to an unused upper room and locks it with a key so no one but he could watch it change.

In the book eighteen years pass and Dorian is the talk of the town. Rumors fly about his shady endeavors, but they remain only rumors. No one could believe that such a good looking man could possibly be as vicious as he was rumored to be. He spends his life search for new and sinful pleasures. On a foggy night at 2 a.m., Dorian Grey once again meets Basil Hallward. Basil has been looking for him, as he is about to leave for Paris and wishes to show the portrait he painted of Dorian at an exhibit. Dorian invites Basil into his house without waking any of the servants. Basil tells Dorian of all the rumors he has heard about him and asked if any of them were true. Dorian decides on impulse to show Basil his painting that he has hidden in the abandoned upper room. Upon seeing it, Basil is horrified that someone has satirized his wonderful painting with this hideous one. Dorian then reminds him of the wish he had made so many years ago when the painting was finished, and shows Basil his own signature along the bottom of the painting. Horrified even more at what became of Dorian's soul, Basil cries for him to repent from his wickedness. In anger, Dorian stabs the man who painted this portrait that has taken over his life. Glancing at his portrait as he leaves he room, Dorian notices the painting's hands are stained with blood.

After a peaceful night of sleep, Dorian sends a letter to a doctor that he was once friends with. The doctor, Alan Campbell, arrives and Dorian sends his butler on a chase for orchids. Dorian blackmails his old friend to cremate the body upstairs and not tell anyone, as it is the only piece of evidence. The body is cremated and Dorian is off the hook. Overwhelmed by the complexity of his life, Dorian goes to a frequented opium den to forget this trouble. By chance a sailor is sitting across the room when Dorian is referred to by the name "Prince Charming". The sailor follows Dorian out of the opium den, and attacks him in an alley. It is none other than James Vane, the brother of Sybil Vane, Dorian's first love. Knowing nothing of the man Sybil had killed herself because of, other than his title of "Prince Charming" James had all but given up trying to find the gentleman. With a gun to his head, and being accused of a crime he truly committed Dorian asked how many years ago James's sister had died. When it was confirmed by James that it was eighteen years ago, Dorian told him to look upon his face in the light. James did so and found the man he was holding couldn't have been much more than in his early twenties and let him go with a start, fearing the crime he had almost committed. The curse of the painting saving him, Dorian hurried away and disappeared shortly after James found out he was nearly forty. Afterwards James begins to follow him in order to kill him. James is accidentally shot while hiding in the brush while Dorian is part of a hunting party. Having once again avoided paying for his crimes, Dorian feels sorrow and vows to repent. Arriving at home he goes to see if his painting has changed to show



Download as:   txt (12 Kb)   pdf (136 Kb)   docx (13.5 Kb)  
Continue for 8 more pages »
Only available on