The Picture of Dorian Gray Book Report

This essay has a total of 881 words and 4 pages.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde, author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, makes Basil's life change drastically
by having him paint a portrait of Dorian Gray and express too much of himself in it,
which, in Wilde's mind, is a troublesome obstacle to circumvent. Wilde believes that the
artist should not portray any of himself in his work, so when Basil does this, it is he
who creates his own downfall, not Dorian.


Wilde introduces Basil to Dorian when Basil begins to notice Dorian staring at him at a
party. Basil "suddenly became conscious that someone was looking at [him]. [He] turned
halfway around and saw Dorian Gray for the first time" (Wilde 24). Basil immediately
notices him, however Basil is afraid to talk to him. His reason for this is that he does
"not want any external influence in [his] life" (Wilde 24). This is almost a paradox in
that it is eventually his own internal influence that destroys him. Wilde does this many
times throughout the book. He loved using paradoxes and that is why Lord Henry, the
character most similar to Wilde, is quoted as being called "Price Paradox." Although
Dorian and Basil end up hating each other, they do enjoy meeting each other for the first
time. Basil finds something different about Dorian. He sees him in a different way than he
sees other men. Dorian is not only beautiful to Basil, but he is also gentle and kind.
This is when Basil falls in love with him and begins to paint the picture.


Basil begins painting the picture, but does not tell anyone about it, including Dorian,
because he knows that there is too much of himself in it. Lord Henry discovers the
painting and asks Basil why he will not display it. Lord Henry thinks that it is so
beautiful it should be displayed in a museum. Basil argues that the reason he will not
display the painting is because he is "afraid that [he] has shown in it the secret of his
soul" (Wilde 23). This is another paradox because he has not only shown the secret of his
soul, but the painting eventually comes to show the secret of Dorian's soul also. In the
preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde explains that "to reveal art and conceal the
artist is art's aim" (Wilde 17). Basil realizes that he has not concealed himself in the
painting and therefore feels the painting is not worth anything. After Lord Henry sees the
painting, he asks to meet Dorian. Basil says that would not be good because his "influence
would be bad" (Wilde 31). Basil is correct in saying this because Lord Henry is the main
person who helps Dorian to destroy himself. Lord Henry disregards Basil's request and
meets Dorian anyway. This is the beginning of the end for both Dorian and Basil because
Lord Henry's influence pollutes Dorian. Lord Henry taunts Dorian and continues to remind
him of all the sin that is building up and that even though his body is not aging, his
soul is deteriorating fast.


When Basil notices that Dorian has not changed physically in many years, he is curious to
know how Dorian stayed beautiful, but also wants to know why Dorian has changed so much
emotionally. Basil does not have the painting on display, but rather keeps it in the
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