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The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray Analysis

Literary Devices in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The portrait is the main symbol at work here. It's a kind of living allegory, a visible interpretation of Dorian's soul. Basically, the picture represents Dorian's inner self, which becomes uglier...

Setting

Let's talk about time first. This novel takes place in the height of the Decadent artistic movement of the late nineteenth century, making Dorian a contemporary of his author, Oscar Wilde. Although...

Narrator Point of View

Although we see the story mainly through the lens of Dorian's opinions, we also dip into the minds of other characters here and there, from Lord Henry to Mrs. Vane. We're able to see everyone's tho...

Genre

This short novel is an interesting combination of elements – Wilde wrote it in a sort of high literary mode (that is to say, with ornate, self-consciously artistic language and heightened sense o...

Tone

Hmm…well, this sounds complicated, but we'll stick to it. We get the distinct feeling that the narrator here is torn between fascination and disgust – Lord Henry and Dorian's depraved p...

Writing Style

Wilde really unleashes the rabid hounds of ornamentation on this piece of work. His prose is almost visibly sparkling with gems and gilded bric-a-brac; reading Dorian Gray is like watching an all-o...

What's Up with the Title?

You know how some titles are little mysteries in themselves, how they can make you wonder, "Man, what was that darn author thinking?" Well, rest easy, because this is not one of those titles. "The...

What's Up with the Epigraph?

Here we'd like to discuss the very famous "Preface" to The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Read the Preface here.) The Preface is a little confusing at first glance – we open a novel expecting to find s...

What's Up With the Ending?

The novel ends, as it begins, with the painting. Dorian is finally forced to come to terms with his actions, and reaches a moment of crisis – is it too late for him to become good again and r...

Plot Analysis

Dorian is (literally) a model of youth and beauty (Chapters 1-2)Dorian's nature is unspoiled and his exquisite outer beauty mirrors the pure inner beauty of his soul. He's as innocent as the day he...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Innocent Dorian meets Lord Henry (Chapters 1-2)Dorian Gray is totally young, pure, and beautiful, and his only concerns at this stage seem to be related to staying young, pure, and beautiful. Howev...

Three Act Plot Analysis

After dumping Sibyl and dealing (quickly) with her death, Dorian reads the yellow book for the first time, and is profoundly changed…for the worse.Dorian kills Basil in a fit of moral-crisis-...

Trivia

When Oscar Wilde went to court for holding an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, the prosecutor tried to quote Dorian Gray as evidence against Wilde.Oscar Wilde's famous last words: "Either that wall...

Steaminess Rating

So nobody actually has sex overtly in Dorian Gray, but the sexual implications are scandalous (or at least were scandalous to Wilde's Victorian audience). We hear about well-bred young ladies who r...

Allusions

Adonis, myth (1.7)Narcissus, myth (1.7)Austin Henry Dobson, "To A Greek Girl" (1.20)Antinoüs, myth (1.20)Plato (3.5)Bacchus and Silenus, myth (3.16)Antoine de la Sale, Les Cent Nouvelles (4.1)...

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