MWDS The Picture of Dorian Gray

Topics: Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Gothic fiction Pages: 5 (1411 words) Published: October 18, 2014
MWDS : The Picture of Dorian Gray


AP English IV

Title of Work: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Date of Publication: 1890
Genre: Gothic

Biographical Information
Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 to
Sir William Wilde and Jane Wilde, the second of
three children. Wilde studied at Oxford, and joined
the Freemasons in 1878 after failing to join the
Oxford Union. After graduation, he went home to
Dublin and began writing poems. The Picture of
Dorian Gray was his first and only novel. Wilde
married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and perished on
November 30, 1900 to cerebral meningitis.

Historical Information
As the second industrial revolution went on, steel,
railroads, and electricity allowed for the economic
growth of the United States and Western Europe. The
standard of living rose dramatically, and health
concern and sanitation caused infection and death
rates to drop greatly. During the decade, gothic novels,
like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by Robert Louis
Stevenson, were published.

Characteristics of the Genre
The setting, atmosphere, and emotions are
dramatic and gloomy. Dark suspense and mystery are
strongly tied to gothic novels, along with the

Plot Summary
The Picture of Dorian Gray is an American novel centered on Dorian Gray, a handsome wealthy young man living in the nineteenth century in London. Even though Dorian is a very intelligent person, he often finds himself easily manipulated and this fault will ultimately lead him to failure. Dorian has his picture painted by a friend named Basil, and when Dorian meets his friend Lord Henry Wotton, his life will soon collapse. Dorian begins to believe that youth and beauty will bring him everything he desires, so he makes a wish that the portrait will age, and he will stay forever young and handsome. The picture begins to show Dorian’s truths portraying him as a demon-like creature, and eventually he will come to realize all the terrible sins he created over fourteen years. After Dorian realized he is the result of numerous deaths, he retreats to his old school room to stab the picture in the heart. This relieves him of all his sins and the picture and he switches back, finally showing Dorian’s age.


Author’s Style
Wilde writes with strong details and vocabulary.
His tendency to write through dialog is evident, as the
growth of the characters and plot are through spoken

“‘He has a simple and a beautiful nature. Your
aunt was quite right in what she said of him. Don't
spoil him. Don't try to influence him. Your influence
would be bad. The world is wide, and has many
marvelous people in it. Don't take away from me the
one person who gives to my art whatever charm it
possesses: my life as an artist depends on him. Mind,
Harry, I trust you’” (12). Basil describing Dorian’s
importance to stay innocent from Lord Henry.


Memorable Quotations


This quote from Lord Henry is significant, because it
“Experience was of no ethical value. It was merely the applies to every experience a person learns from. To name men fave to their mistakes” (55).
gain experience, a person has to try to do something
and fail. You cannot learn as well with winning as
you can with losing.
“To define is to limit” (188).

This quote from Lord Henry is significant, because as
Gladys tries to define Lord Henry, the reader realizes
that Henry is a multitude of terms. He is a skeptic, a
philosopher, a leader, and more. This also applies to
limiting existence as a single thing; should you try to
define human nature, you’d be limiting yourself in
exploring other ways of thought.

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and
the value of nothing” (43).

This quote from Lord Henry is significant, because it
can be applied to everything. The price of something
may not compare to it’s value. An education that is
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