The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray Theme of Mortality
Death and age really get a bad rap in The Picture of Dorian Gray. To our protagonist, the most important things in life are youth and beauty – really, they're the only important things. Losing them is so unthinkable that he decides to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth. It might just be us, but this doesn't seem like the best of bargains. Still, it's the way the story goes, and in the end, it turns out – surprise, surprise! – that nobody can actually escape his own mortality.
Questions About Mortality
- Why is Dorian so afraid of aging?
- Does this novel offer us any hope for life after middle age?
- What are the various characters' thoughts on the natural process of age and death?
Chew on This
The absence of appealing aging characters might lead readers of The Picture of Dorian Gray to believe that life stops at forty.
Death is interestingly removed from any religious sense of the afterlife; in the novel, death is truly an ending without the possibility of future salvation.