Study Guide

The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 3

By Oscar Wilde

Chapter 3

  • The next day, Lord Henry goes to visit his crotchety old uncle George, with the intent of finding out about Dorian's background. It seems that Uncle George is something of a society gossip, underneath his gruff exterior.
  • We learn that Dorian's the grandson of one Lord Kelso, an old acquaintance of Uncle George's; Dorian's mother, Kelso's daughter, was Lady Margaret Devereux, who was incredibly beautiful. Lady Margaret apparently fell passionately in love and married a guy far below her social rank, and rumor has it that Lord Kelso arranged for his son-in-law to be killed in a duel.
  • Uncle George imagines that Lord Kelso probably left his grandson a huge fortune when he died—so Dorian's probably rolling in dough (or at least, he will be once he comes of age).
  • The conversation veers off into idle gossip about some guy named Dartmoor and his American fiancée. Lord Henry heads out and walks over to Aunt Agatha's house for lunch. As he walks, he muses over the tragic, romantic story of Dorian's parents.
  • He thinks again about how very marvelous and special Dorian is, and decides that he wants to do for Dorian what Dorian did for Basil—that is, change the way the boy sees the world entirely.
  • Lord Henry notices that, in his thoughtful daze, he's passed his aunt's house. When he finally reaches his destination, he's late, and gets told off by Aunt Agatha.
  • The dining room is full of notable visitors, including the Duchess of Harley, Sir Thomas Burdon (a politician), and Mr. Erskine (some kind of intellectual), among other luminaries. Dorian is also there.
  • The conversation here is also about Dartmoor and his American sweetheart. The genteel gathering is rather puzzled by Americans, especially by American women, who are all the rage at the moment.
  • Lord Henry quickly assumes control of the whole conversation, and entertains the table with his extravagant ideas. Everyone is totally charmed by him, none more than Dorian.
  • The luncheon ends when the Duchess, followed by the other ladies, leaves. Mr. Erskine pulls Lord Henry aside, asking why he doesn't write a book; he invites Henry to come visit him at his home, Treadley, sometime.
  • Even though he's supposed to hang out with Basil, Dorian asks if he can accompany Lord Henry, so he can listen to Henry talk some more. Henry agrees, but says that he's talked enough for today—the two friends go to the park to "look at life."