A for the exhibition of the portrait, claiming

A short collection of Oscar Wilde’s description artists and
art.

The story starts out in the
artist Basil Hallward’s house, with the painter and his guest Lord Henry
Wotton. The latter then admires and compliments Basil’s newest artwork, a
portrait of a beautiful young man. However, when Lord Henry suggests for the
exhibition of the portrait, claiming that it is the artist’s best masterpiece, his
suggestion is immediately declined as the artist feels that he has put too much
of himself into it. However, his guest does not believe this reason saying that
the Basil bears no resemblance to the young lad in the portrait. The
explanation he then receives is that an artist’s work reveals his/her feelings
and secrets more than it does the subject of the art. Although initially
attempting to keep the young lad’s identity a secret, Basil eventually slips
and reveals his name to be Dorian Gray, and whose acquaintance he made at a
party. He also informs Henry that Gray’s influence on him is so great it has
changed his style of art and that he utterly worships the young lad. Lord Henry
then becomes interested in meeting this new individual, and though his host is
reluctant at first, he could not stop the encounter, especially after Gray’s
appearance was announced by the butler. However, right before the meeting,
Basil pleas with his friend to not corrupt the innocent and beautiful nature of
Dorian Gray with his terrible influence.

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When Lord Henry meets Dorian for
the first time, he admits that he is a very handsome and innocent looking young
lad. Basil then asks Lord Henry to leave so that he could finish the portrait
but his request is denied by Dorian who seems to be attracted to Lord Henry.
Henry than talks to Dorian about many of his own views and philosophies,
negatively influencing him. Although Dorian admits that he is being influenced,
being innocent and naïve, he does not see its corruptive powers, and is
captivated by Henry’s words. While Basil is finishing the portrait’s
background, Dorian and Henry retire to the garden where the latter continues
his influence by talking about the importance of youth and beauty while
encouraging the selfish actions of seeking pleasure. The conversation is
interrupted when Basil asks Dorian to return to the studio so that he may
finish the portrait. After the artwork’s completion, Basil shows it to the two
others in the room. Dorian is fascinated by the image of himself on the canvas,
and becomes jealous by the fact that the portrait will get to keep his beauty
and youth, while he will continuously age and become uglier. He then wishes
that the portrait would carry his burden of aging while he would look forever
young and handsome, an exchange that he was willing to trade his soul for.
Basil, seeing the change in the young lad, blames Henry, who merely claims that
he had brought to the surface what was already there: the real Dorian. After
witnessing the terrible effect of the portrait on the men, Basil is about to
destroy the portrait when he is stopped by Dorian who claims that such an
action would be murder. The two other men then depart leaving Basil with the
portrait. Before doing so, Henry refuses to fulfil the painter’s request to not
corrupt Dorian further.

Chapter 3:

Summary

Lord Henry visits his uncle, Lord
Fermor, to seek information about Dorian Gray. From him, Henry learns of
Dorian’s dark family past. His mother was an aristocrat by the name of Margaret
Devereux, daughter of Lord Kelso, who ran away with a penniless soldier,
Dorian’s father .Because the marriage was looked down upon and disapproved,
Dorian’s father was murdered, due to his grandfather on his maternal side. Within
a year, Margaret was also dead, leaving Dorian an orphan. The young lad got his
beauty from his mother, and his fortune also from her side of the family.
Later, Henry and Dorian both attend a luncheon, where the older of the two once
again talks about his philosophy, fascinating Dorian with his words. The two
then leave lunch together, after Dorian confesses his loyalty and admiration of
Lord Henry.

Dorian is in Lord Henry’s library
waiting for its owner who is late. Finally, Henry’s wife enters and she is
excited to meet Dorian whom she has seen numerous photos of. The two converse
for a short while before Lord Henry arrives at the scene explaining how he
spent the last few hours bargaining for a piece of fabric. After the two were
left alone together, Dorian confesses his love of an actress named Sibyl Vane
to Henry. He had been watching the play Romeo and Juliet from a private theatre
box, and when he saw her perform Juliet, became infatuated with her
immediately. Returning to the theatre night after night, Dorian had seen her
perform in many roles including Rosalind, Juliet, and Imogen. When first
telling his friend about his love, Dorian had been concerned, for he knew of
Henry’s opinion of actresses, but the latter assured him otherwise. Dorian
claims that what draws him to Sibyl is her job as an actress, for she is
someone different every night, and therefore is never boring. In fact, it can
be said that he fell in love with Sibyl’s profession and not her as a person.
Henry agree to visit the theatre with Basil and Dorian. After the young lad
leaves, Henry reveal his thoughts to the reader, to him, Dorian is nothing more
than an experiment for him to observe. That night, it is revealed to Lord Henry
in a note that Dorian is engaged to Sibyl.

Sibyl and her mother are
discussing her relationship with Dorian. She is very excited to be engaged to
Dorian Gray. Her mother is revealed to be a realistic and a materialistically
greedy woman. The two are much in debt to Mr. Isaacs, but her mother is willing
to let her daughter marry Dorian if the latter is wealthy. Sibyl is also
revealed to be a very innocent and naïve young lady as she seems to have no
regard for the family’s debt, so long that she marries for love. On top of
that, she is engaged to a man whom to her is only a fairy-tale character. Sibyl
is revealed to have a very loving relationship with her brother James Vane who
is a sailor headed for Australia, where he plans to make his fortune. James is
very protective of his sister, and disapproves of her relationship with “Prince
Charming”. During a walk in the park with his sister, he reveals that he
believes that the “gentleman” is taking advantage of his sister. When they
return home, he asks their mother whether or not she ever married their father,
and the answer was no. She defends him however, saying that he was a gentleman,
hinting that Sibyl’s relationship with another “gentleman” is doomed. He vows
that if Sibyl’s lover ever harms his sister, he will track him down the man and
kill him.

Lord Henry brings Basil the news
of Dorian’s engagement. Basil is surprised by this news and Lord Henry
continues by telling him that it is to some actress, showing his disdain for
Dorian’s choice which he dared not show in front of the lad. Basil is truly
upset by the news and wonders how Dorian could possibly make such a mistake.
Lord Henry’s words which state that Dorian is merely engaged and not married,
foreshadow the fact that Dorian’s relationship with Sibyl may not reach
marriage. He expresses there to be some value in the relationship as Sibyl is
apparently beautiful, a trait that is highly valued by Lord Henry. He then
suggests that if Dorian does marry, that he should remain loyal for only half a
year before going out and finding himself a mistress. Dorian then arrives at
the scene, filled with excitement from seeing Sibyl’s performance of Rosalind
the previous night. Dorian then reveals his plan to marry the actress in less
than a year’s time, as soon as he reaches the legal age to marry. After being
questioned by Lord Henry, Dorian admits that the engagement was not a formal
one, but simply that Dorian confessed his love for Sibyl and the latter
confessed herself unworthy of being his partner in life. For the first time in
the novel, Dorian rejects Henry saying that his cynical views and philosophy
are unsuitable for the purity and innocence of Sibyl, and that he would choose
his love over his friend. Lord Henry and Dorian then leaves together with the
artist following behind. It is at the end of the chapter that Basil admits that
he feels as if he has lost the relationship and loyalty of the young lad he had
once painted of.

The three men arrive at the
crowded theatre. That night, Sibyl plays the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet
and although she looks just as beautiful and innocent as ever, her performance was
listless and disappointing. Dorian himself was disappointed. Basil and Henry,
who both admitted that Sibyl was in fact beautiful and supported the marriage,
were appalled by the acting. Like many of the members of the audience that
night, they could not bear the show and left before the curtains fell. Only the
young lad himself waited until the end before visiting Sibyl demanding a reason
for her terrible performance. Sibyl joyfully explained that it was because she
was so in love that she can no longer act as she once was able to. She admits
that because of Dorian, she is now aware of the true reality and can no longer
thrive in the false world of acting that she once dominated in. Dorian is
disgusted by her and the romantic feelings that he once possessed seemed to
have vanished in that instant. Instead he now finds Sibyl shallow and foolish,
proving to the reader that the young lad did in fact fall in love with Sibyl’s
profession and not her as a person. Sibyl is absolutely heartbroken and even as
she sobs uncontrollably and begs Dorian to stay, but the young man ends their
relationship and walks out of the theatre. That night, after arriving home,
Dorian notices that the portrait that Basil had painted of him seems different.
The lines around the mouth seemed to possess a new look of cruelty. Shocked,
Dorian checks his own reflection in the mirror but notes no difference, yet
upon a closer examination of the portrait, the cruel look on the painted face
was unmistakable. He then remembers the wish that he had made impulsively in
the artist’s studio, and realized that unwittingly, it must have been granted.
After a moment of reflection, Dorian realizes that the reason must have been
his cruel treatment towards Sibyl. He then vows that he would apologize to
Sibyl and marry her to compensate for his sin, and to commit no more vile acts
in his future. After recognizing that Lord Henry has a terrible influence on
him, he plans to sever all ties with the man. He then pulls the curtain over
the portrait and after leaving the house, repeatedly calls Sibyl’s name into
the peaceful dawn.

After sleeping in late, Dorian is
receives a pile of letters, one of which is from Lord Henry, but he does not
open it. He recalls the changes in the portrait from the night before and goes
to check it to confirm that what he had seen was real, and indeed it was. He
seeks to save his soul by writing a long apology letter to Sibyl asking for her
forgiveness and telling her that what he did had been terrible. By writing the
letter, Dorian felt that he was no longer guilty of his treatment of Sibyl. Lord
Henry then pays Dorian a visit, and seems unnaturally consoling compared to his
usual self. He then asks Dorian a number of questions regarding Sibyl from the
night before, and states that the tragic events were not his fault. Dorian then
tells him of his plans to make amends to Sibyl by marrying him. Here, a
confused Lord Henry asks if his letter had been read and Dorian admits that he
had not done so. Henry then explains the purpose of the letter: to inform
Dorian that Sibyl was dead, by suicide via poison. Dorian shows no sign of
regret over the incident and jokes that his first letter was directed to a dead
girl. He even goes as far as to blame the suicide on Sibyl’s own selfishness.
For a moment, Dorian seems to feel guilty by the fact that he cannot seem to
feel grief at the news and wonders if he is in fact heartless. Henry continues
to corrupt Dorian by assuring him that the whole tragedy could be viewed as
nothing but a wonderful experience for Dorian. He then checks the portrait to
find that it remained unchanged, and after concluding that it only registers
events that have occurred, vows to continue life by seeking the ultimate
pleasures while retaining his youth and beauty. Here he lets go of whatever
small piece of conscience he has left and fully enters his life of sin and
corruption.

During breakfast the following
day, Basil arrives to give Dorian his condolences and expresses his shock at
Dorian’s heartlessness. He had paid an earlier visit only to find that Dorian
had gone to the opera, so soon after the death of his fiancée. On top of that,
Dorian’s apparent boredom and indifference regarding Sibyl’s tragedy is very
disturbing to Basil. The young lad does not even care about how the rest of the
young actress’s family members are dealing with the issue. Instead, Dorian
changes to topic and asks about Basil’s paintings. Basil, after angrily
accursing Dorian’s lack of a heart, blames his new behaviour on Lord Henry.
Dorian immediately defends Henry saying that he has taught him more than the
artist whose only lessons were teaching him how to be vain. Basil’s next words
foreshadow his own fate when he says that he will one day be punished for
corrupting Dorian (by making him vain). Dorian then tries to convince himself
by saying that he has changed. The young lad then tells Basil that while he is
a better person, the former is the courageous one who is not afraid of life.
Dorian then requests of Basil a portrait of Sibyl. The latter agrees and asks
that Dorian sit with him again, but Dorian declines, saying that it is
impossible for him to do so again. Upon being asked for his portrait by the
artist so that it can be displayed in an exhibition in Paris, Dorian is
horrified and convinces Basil that the artwork is never to be displayed in
public. Dorian then prides himself at being able to successfully manipulate
those around him while keeping his secret safe. It is here when he decides that
the portrait is to be hidden permanently.

Dorian decides to move the
portrait to the attic where it could be hidden and accessible to no one but
himself. Not even trusting his own servants to not look at the portrait, he
summons Mr. Hubbard, the frame maker, and asks for his assistance in moving the
portrait. From his housekeeper, Mrs. Leaf, he requests the key to the old
schoolroom that has been abandoned for years. He covers the portrait with a
piece of fabric used to cover coffins before his servant, Victor’s return.
Dorian becomes paranoid that his servant’s will find out his secrets and use it
to blackmail him. There is a moment when Dorian realizes the poisonous
influence of Lord Henry and wonders if he could turn to Basil to avoid
travelling down the sinful path he is currently headed. However, the moment
passes as quickly as it had come, and the young lad discards the possibility of
his redemption deciding that it was too late already. Dorian in a way secured
his own fate by choosing to head down a path that will utterly corrupt him and
his soul. After the frame maker arrives with two men, they transport the
portrait to the designated room, which contain many of Dorian’s childhood
memories. Afterwards Dorian receive a book and a newspaper article about
Sibyl’s death from Henry, and after reading the article, Dorian is angry at
Henry for pointing out the ugliness of Sibyl’s death. The book, however, grasps
Dorian’s interest. There is no plot and revolves around only one character, and
tells of the sins of the world. He becomes so engrossed by it that he reads
until Victor reminds him of his dinner with Henry. When the two meet, Henry is
not at all surprised that Dorian enjoys the book which he has given him.

Manipulation:

Dorian Gray is manipulated by Lord Henry who wishes to make
others see his views and live by his philosophy. After sensing that Dorian is
highly impressionable, Henry begins manipulating the young lad, and ultimately
corrupting him.

Corruption:

The novel, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, documents the title
character’s corruption from an innocent and pure young lad to the monster at
the end of the novel. His corruption was mainly due to the influence of his
friend, Lord Henry.

Innocence:

The first half of the novel shows Dorian’s loss of innocence
after being negatively influenced by Lord Henry. It can be argued that this
novel sends to the reader the message that innocence does not last, as
demonstrated by the two characters Dorian and Sibyl. Dorian becomes corrupted,
and Sibyl’s innocence led her to her death because she was unable to realize
how corrupted her fiancée was.

 

 

Loyalty:

The artist Basil demonstrates his loyalty to Dorian as he
tries to stop him from interacting with Lord Henry knowing that the latter had
a negative influence on those around him. He truly does have Dorian’s best
interest in mind, and is pained when he sees that Dorian has been corrupted.

Vanity:

One of the most important themes in the novel, it is due to
vanity that the events in the book were able to unfold. Lord Henry possesses a
very Hellenistic views which he imposes on Dorian. It is a result of his own
vanity that causes Dorian to trade his soul for eternal youth and beauty, believing
the latter to be more important, thus setting the stage for the events of the
novel.