Study Guide

The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 18

By Oscar Wilde

Chapter 18

  • The next day, Dorian doesn't leave the house; he's terrified that his assassin will find him. He wonders if this is all a product of his imagination—could he just have hallucinated his vision of his would-be killer? Surely he's safe.
  • However, he can't get the vision out of his head; Henry comes in that evening and finds Dorian crying.
  • After a couple of days of sulking, Dorian feels well enough to go outside. He feels infinitely better, and looks back on his former fear with contempt.
  • Dorian goes on a walk in the garden with the Duchess, then joins some other friends to go hunting.
  • Dorian and the Duchess's brother, Geoffrey, stroll through the woods, looking for animals to shoot. They come upon a beautiful hare. Dorian is charmed by the creature, and tells Geoffrey not to shoot it, but he scoffs and takes aim.
  • Geoffrey hits the hare—but also hits something else. He accidentally shoots a man hidden behind the trees.
  • Geoffrey angrily yells at the gamekeeper; he thinks it's one of the "beaters," men employed to flush birds out of the trees to be shot at.
  • The body of the shot man is dragged out, and Dorian is distraught—he finds the whole thing to be dreadful. Henry gently walks him back to the house, and informs him on the way that the man has died. Dorian is profoundly disturbed.
  • Henry, however, is not. He thinks it's the man's own fault for being in the line of fire, though he admits that this situation is rather awkward for Geoffrey.
  • Dorian thinks this is a bad omen, and is certain that something bad is going to happen to someone—maybe him.
  • Henry blows off this presentiment, and they change topics to Dorian's affair with the Duchess. However, Dorian's distress is still palpable, but he won't tell Henry what's the matter.
  • The Duchess comes out to join them, and the three of them discuss the murdered man in the most alarming way—as though he's just an animal. Their snobbery is unbelievable.
  • Dorian leaves his two friends and goes into the house. Henry and the Duchess continue their banter; they're pretty much equally matched in wit.
  • Inside, Dorian is totally freaking out. He feels like death is coming for him.
  • Thornton, the gamekeeper, comes in to see Dorian about the dead man. It turns out he wasn't a beater, after all. In fact, Thornton says, he looks more like a sailor.
  • This really wakes Dorian up—he desperately wants to know the man's identity. He rushes out on horseback to see the body where it's being kept in a stable.
  • The dead man is James Vane. Dorian rides back to the house, crying tears of joy—he's safe.