Dorian Gray

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Discuss the significance of chapter 3 in Dorian Gray

Chapter 3 was the first chapter out of five that Oscar Wilde added to the 1891 edition. The chapter shows Lord Henry and Dorian in their shared social context whilst Basil is absent. Oscar Wilde lets the reader learn about Dorian’s background and his family. A significant part of chapter 3 is that we learn about the relationship between Dorian and Lord Henry solidifies quickly. Lord Henry recalls that talking with Dorian the night before had been like ‘playing upon and exquisite violin.’ Lord Henry then likens his influence on Dorian to a sculptors shaping of a statue made out of beautiful marble. Another way in which chapter 3 is significant because we learn that Lord Henry is not at all subtle about his motives toward Dorian, ‘ he would seek to dominate him, had already, indeed, half done so.’ This is significant because it makes us learn about the sort of relationship lord Henry has towards Dorian and how he feels about him.

Readers should note the ironic contrast of Lord Henry's speeches and his actions. In Chapter 2, he advises Dorian that all influence is bad because it corrupts a person's true spirit; in this chapter, he wilfully states that he intends to influence Dorian's development. At the end of the chapter, Dorian has fallen fully under the spell of Lord Henry's influence. For example, Dorian backs out of his afternoon appointment with Basil, saying, "I would sooner come with you [Lord Henry]; yes, I feel I must come with you."
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