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The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

Transformation Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"[…] the work I have done, since I met Dorian Gray, is good work, is the best work of my life. But in some curious way -- I wonder will you understand me? -- his personality has suggested to me an entirely new manner in art, an entirely new mode of style. I see things differently, I think of them differently. I can now recreate life in a way that was hidden from me before. 'A dream of form in days of thought' -- who is it who says that? I forget; but it is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this lad -- for he seems to me little more than a lad, though he is really over twenty -- his merely visible presence -- ah! I wonder can you realize all that that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body -- how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is vulgar, an ideality that is void. Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me!" (1.20)

Dorian brings about a dramatic transformation in Basil's artwork – his personality is the catalyst to Basil's new understanding of the world. Basil's personal development is exactly in line with his artistic development. Everything, to him, is art.

Quote #2

Yes; there had been things in his boyhood that he had not understood. He understood them now. Life suddenly became fiery-coloured to him. It seemed to him that he had been walking in fire. Why had he not known it?

With his subtle smile, Lord Henry watched him. He knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing. He felt intensely interested. He was amazed at the sudden impression that his words had produced, and, remembering a book that he had read when he was sixteen, a book which had revealed to him much that he had not known before, he wondered whether Dorian Gray was passing through a similar experience. He had merely shot an arrow into the air. Had it hit the mark? How fascinating the lad was! (2.11-12)

Lord Henry's cold interest in Dorian's moment of revelation has a certain scientific quality to it; he seems to want to simply find out what will happen to Dorian if he introduces certain ideas to him. Changing Dorian is just a kind of experiment to Henry.

Quote #3

Lord Henry went out to the garden and found Dorian Gray burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms, feverishly drinking in their perfume as if it had been wine. He came close to him and put his hand upon his shoulder. "You are quite right to do that," he murmured. "Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."

The lad started and drew back. He was bare-headed, and the leaves had tossed his rebellious curls and tangled all their gilded threads. There was a look of fear in his eyes, such as people have when they are suddenly awakened. His finely chiselled nostrils quivered, and some hidden nerve shook the scarlet of his lips and left them trembling.

"Yes," continued Lord Henry, "that is one of the great secrets of life -- to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul. You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know." (2.14-15)

Here, we see Dorian on the cusp of a new discovery. Lord Henry's words have awakened a new kind of fascination and desire for knowledge in him. Where he was blissfully ignorant and innocent just a few moments ago, he is now filled with an unsettling new feeling.

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