The Picture of Dorian Gray
Morality and Ethics Theme
Everyone in The Picture of Dorian Gray has his or her own moral scale, and the result is a world in which we're not quite sure what's right or wrong. That being said, some things are definitely wrong – for example, like killing your former best friend, then having his body chemically…um, for lack of a better word, disappeared. The interesting thing is that characters in this novel have a way of adjusting their personal moral and ethical codes to suit their own needs and desires.
Questions About Morality and Ethics
- What is the basis for Lord Henry's personal morality?
- What is the basis for Basil's understanding of morality and ethics?
- Is there a difference between morality and ethics here?
- Does morality play a role in any of Dorian's judgments?
Chew on This
Lord Henry's ultimate hypocrisy lies in the gap between his understanding of morality and ethics; while he acts in public according to the accepted ethical code of his society, his personal morality is vastly different.
While Basil is a highly moral character and Lord Henry an amoral one, Dorian is the only actively immoral character we see.