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The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

Sexuality and Sexual Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet -- we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke's -- we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it -- much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me." (1.10)

We're not entirely sure to make of this comment from Lord Henry – we find out as the novel goes on that his relationship with his wife is certainly not one of mutual attraction. What is Lord Henry attracted to, then?

Quote #2

"I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream -- I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal -- to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful." (2.8)

Wilde doesn't come out and say it, but we can think of one so-called "forbidden" desire that not just the soul, but the actual government of nineteenth-century England made "monstrous and unlawful" – homosexuality, which we might associate here with the "Hellenic ideal."

Quote #3

"Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed." (4.8)

OK – if Lord Henry thinks that men and women are never happy married, what then is the best and most fulfilling state of companionship? He doesn't offer us any answer.

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