Study Guide

The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 9

By Oscar Wilde

Chapter 9

  • The next morning, a distraught Basil Hallward shows up at Dorian's pad. He feels awful about Sibyl—he read about her death in the newspaper, and has come to comfort his friend. He assumes that Dorian is heartbroken, and wants to know if he went to visit Sibyl's mother.
  • Dorian's heart (if he has one anymore) is in one piece. He basically brushes off Basil's concern, and starts talking about the grand time he had at the Opera with Henry last night.
  • Basil is shocked and horrified—how can Dorian prattle on unsympathetically while Sibyl lies dead?
  • Dorian orders Basil to stop bringing up the past (apparently, to this new Dorian, yesterday is ancient history).
  • Saddened, Basil says that this change in Dorian is all Lord Henry's fault, and that he wants the old Dorian back.
  • Dorian tries to explain his reasoning to Basil; he goes through the argument that Sibyl's suicide was a great romantic act, and, while he can appreciate it aesthetically, he's pretty much over it. He reminds Basil that he's developed a lot since they first met, and asks that they remain friends.
  • Basil rather sadly promises never to bring Sibyl up again, as long as Dorian's name isn't tangled up in the investigation of her death. Dorian assures him that he's in the clear.
  • Dorian asks Basil to do up a sketch of Sibyl so he can have something to remember her by. Thinking of his work, Basil asks Dorian to come sit for him again—he refuses. Miffed, Basil asks if Dorian didn't like the portrait.
  • This is not the right question. Dorian kind of freaks out, and (understandably) makes Basil promise that he'll never look at the painting again.
  • Basil protests, saying that he changed his mind and wants to exhibit the portrait after all; it is his best work, and he'd like to show it off.
  • Dorian freaks out again, and asks why Basil why he didn't want to show it in the first place. Basil claims that there's something mysterious about the portrait, and we wonder for a second if knows the link it has with Dorian's soul. He then admits that he didn't want to exhibit it because he totally worshipped Dorian, and felt like his idolatry showed through somehow in the picture.
  • Dorian is off the hook—Basil doesn't know. Still, he refuses to show the artist his work ever again.
  • Dorian refuses again to sit for another painting, and Basil leaves in a bit of a mood. Something has changed between the two friends—and it's not good.
  • When Basil's gone, Dorian immediately rings for his servant to remove the portrait.