The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works. Written in Wilde's characteristically dazzling manner, full of stinging epigrams and shrewd observations, the tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused something of a scandal when it first appeared in 1890. Wilde was attacked for his decadence and corrupting influence, and a few years later the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons, trials that resulted in his imprisonment. Of the book's value as autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages, perhaps." (From feedbooks.com)
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Authors often introduce the setting and characters in the first few chapters of a book. Here, Wilde introduces us to the setting and through his word choice, creates a sensual mood.
Based on the descriptions, a potential reoccurring topic that will appear is
You can figure out characters based on what they say, think, do and what others think of them. In this line, we learn that Basil believes ugly and stupid people have easier lives and do not know struggle.
Who is Basil Hallward, the painter, conversing with?
It is plausible to assume that Basil felt that he was "growing pale" because he felt
Basil is showing the reader that he has a strong intuition. He is foreshadowing that something big is about to happen to him since he has met Dorian Gray. Read to find out what happens.
Basil is showing us that he is pessimistic about love and relationships. Why do you think he has developed this stance?
Setting plays an important role in understanding the social and historical context of a novel. Where does this story take place?
Based on the way Basil describes Dorian, it is clearly that Basil has ____________ feelings toward him.
A muse is typically a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. Notice the way Basil describes Dorian. Is Dorian his muse?
"To sit" is a common phrase artists use which means to model.
These descriptive words and phrases about Dorian creates a strong ________ of what he looks like.
Good readers notice how characters develop over a story. Watch this video to figure out how characters change and grow. (This annotation contains a video)
What does Dorian's reaction to Lord Henry's words reveal about him?
What does this line reveal about Lord Henry?
This paragraph presents a profound commentary on the importance of beauty in society. This book was written in 1890. Are these ideas of beauty still present in today's society? Think about that as you read.
Did you know that you can look up any word in the book or in the questions and answer choices? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to look up the word "panegyric."
Which line from the text best shows that Dorian is being changed by the painting?
Through Lord Henry's rant on youth and Dorian's reaction to the painting, a theme is beginning to emerge. Watch this video to learn how to figure out theme. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the video you have just watched and based on what is happening in the story, which theme is beginning to emerge?
Authors use foreshadowing to create suspense and intrigue in a story. Watch this video to learn about foreshadowing then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on this foreshadowing, we can logically infer that
In 2-3 sentences, explain what you have learned about Dorian Gray's mother.
Based on the phrase "not of age" we can infer that Dorian is not yet 18 years old.
What do these lines reveal about Lord Henry?
Based on the fact that people in this novel often discuss money and art and have butlers, we can tell that they are of English gentry.
What does this paragraph reveal about Lord Henry?
Based on what Lord Henry says and does, we can tell he is a charming man. In this line, he attempting to compliment the Duchess. What do you think his motives are?
Throughout the novel you will see the characters use archaic language, which is language that is no longer used in modern society. See if you can identify other archaic words and phrases throughout the text and figure out what they mean.
What do Dorian's words reveal about his relationship with Lord Henry?
This comparison shows that Lady Henry is statuesque and refined. (This annotation contains an image)
Dorian is in love with
Watch this video about women in the 19th century then analyze Lord Henry's perspective on women. (This annotation contains a video)
Consider what you learned from the video about women in the 19th century. Lord Henry's attitude toward women is
Dorian is a sensitive boy. Why do you think he did not want to "know her?"
Rosalind is a female character from William Shakespeare's "As You Like It." Watch this video then image Sibyl playing this role. Why do you think Dorian fell in love with her? (This annotation contains a video)
Watch this video to learn how authors structure a book. (This annotation contains a video)
How did Oscar Wilde structure this book?
Basil and Lord Henry's conversation about Dorian's love life, show that they are ___________ by Dorian's perspective on love.
This line creates a sense of mystery about what is to come. Notice other instances of foreshadowing Wilde uses to show the nature of future events.
Based on what they say and do, we can tell that Sibyl and James have a ____________ relationship.
Women played a distinctive role in 19th century England. Men did as well. Men were expected to be bread-winners and to create fortune and prosperity for their families.
Personification is the attribution of human characteristics to something nonhuman. This is an example of personification. Notice other examples of figurative language as you read and figure out what they mean.
What does this description of James reveal about his personality?
Which type of figurative language is used to show the fierceness of James' words?
Based on this dialogue, we can tell that James is assuming the role of a father to Sibyl since he is the only man in their immediate family. Do you think he is protecting her in the right way?
Lord Henry constantly rants about the meaning of live which reveals an _________ side to him.
Good readers think about why authors include or omit certain information. It is clear that Wilde included this description of Sibyl's attire to show the enormous amount of attention Dorian pays to her every move. It shows that he loves her deeply.
Basil and Lord Henry often discuss society and its ways. Through these conversations, which theme is emerging?
Despite being influenced by Basil and Lord Henry's cynical views on love, Dorian persists in being innocent and open in his views. Do you think this will change as the story progresses?
"Opera glass" is typically known as a set of binoculars. People use them to see up close what is happening on stage. (This annotation contains an image)
This paragraph reveals that Basil is more of a __________ influence to Dorian than Lord Henry.
In 2-3 sentences, explain why Dorian is upset at the theater.
We can tell that the audience left laughing because the acting in the play was so bad.
The fact that Dorian proclaims that he no longer loves Sibyl, shows that he
Picture a trampled flower in your head. This imagery shows how deeply hurt and crushed Sibyl is due to Dorian's words and reaction to her performance.
We are seeing a new side to Dorian. Watch this video to learn about dynamic and static characters. (This annotation contains a video)
Dorian can be classified as a dynamic character because he
Based on what has happened so far, why does the portrait of Dorian now look evil?
There is much tension in the story now because Dorian is experiencing conflict. Watch this video to learn how to identify tension in a story. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on Dorian's reaction to Lord Henry's news, what is revealed about Dorian?
Did Sibyl commit suicide? Was it because of Dorian's treatment toward her?
What effect does Lord Henry have on Dorian?
Use the define feature to learn what "asphodel" means.
Based on what you know about Lord Henry, what is his motive for becoming so close to Dorian? Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
We have learned that what is happening in the portrait is a direct representation of Sibyl's suicide.
Basil's ignorance as to Dorian's whereabouts reveals that
This description of Basil's reaction shows that Basil is shocked and stunned by Dorian's cold-hearted behavior. Will this make him see Dorian differently?
Dorian is proclaiming that he is a "man" now. Does a man act the way he does?
Why is Basil having a difficult time seeing Dorian in a negative light?
"Exhibit" is when an artist shows his or her work to the public in a gallery or museum setting. (This annotation contains an image)
In this paragraph, what mood is Oscar Wilde creating?
It is clear that Dorian is torn between his relationship with Basil and his relationship with Lord Henry. He toggles back and forth between the two because he does not yet know his own identity.
Dorian feels that "there is something fatal about a portrait" because
This line reveals that Dorian has become worse and now is
This must have been an eerie experience. The "magic" of the portrait brings a fantastical feel to the story.
What is happening internally to Dorian?
Wilde is using the portrait of Dorian as a motif to further the plot and develop complex themes about beauty. Watch this video to learn about motif. (This annotation contains a video)
Considering the context, what does the word "unconscious" most likely mean?
Could Wilde be employing the book as a motif? What could the book symbolize?
Based on this line, how does Dorian feel about the life he has made for himself?
Lord Henry is continuing to prove he is a bad influence. He aids Dorian in his poor lifestyle. Why does he continue to do that?
What does this paragraph reveal about human nature?
This is a strange addition to the story. Considering how reckless Dorian is, why might he indulge in Roman Catholic traditions?
Why might Dorian have indulged in such a collection of things?
This is a book that was written in the beginning of the 12th century. It is a collection of fables and tales and is the oldest European book of its kind. (This annotation contains an image)
What do these collections show about Dorian's position in society?
A "vestment" is a robe worn by the clergy or choristers during services. Why is Dorian suddenly so interesting in the church? (This annotation contains an image)
What does the phrase "whose blood flowed in his veins" mean?
Wilde is drawing a parallel between the lives of these famous people and Dorian's experience. Read the descriptions. How are they similar? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Wilde include this line about Basil carrying a bag? Does it have significance? This line creates tension because the reader does not know what is in it.
Basil uses the word "shan't." Why did Wilde include this language?
In 3-4 sentences, tell two things Basil is concerned with on this page.
Basil is making a judgement in this sentence, and he is trying to get Dorian to see that he must learn to live a life of balance rather than indulgence.
Why does Wilde open this chapter with this description of the setting?
This sentence builds tension and suspense. What do you think Dorian will show Basil?
Examine this image. Is this how you image Dorian looking in his portrait? (This annotation contains an image)
What do these lines reveal about Basil?
What does this personification mean?
This paragraph makes the reader question Dorian motives. What is he up to now?
In addition to his sinful lifestyle, Dorian is now a criminal because
Dorian has become a scary character. He is capable of doing anything. These actions are likened to a sociopath. What do you think his portrait looks like now?
This line shows that Dorian still has empathy. He has some humane feelings left, but why then does he continue to act like a monster?
What is Dorian asking Alan the chemist to do?
What is Dorian feeling in this sentence?
Dorian is manipulating and blackmailing Alan. This is another example of his poor character.
The portrait is now "sweating blood" because Dorian's actions are growing increasingly more sinister.
This action reveals that Dorian is
Read this phrase closely. What is Wilde suggesting about English society?
Why did Wilde use the phrase "musical voice" to describe Lord Henry?
This is the first time in the story that a character has outwardly proclaimed that Lord Henry is "wicked." Why is this happening now?
A petticoat is a woman's light, loose undergarment hanging from the shoulders or the waist, worn under a skirt or dress. What do you think a "petticoat party" is? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Dorian concealing from Lord Henry?
What could this green paste be?
This is another example of social context. In the 19th century, roads were different and were often paved with cobble stone, making travel bumpy. (This annotation contains an image)
What does this sentence reveal about Dorian's current state of mind?
The woman is mocking Dorian by calling him "Prince Charming."
In 2-3 sentences, explain which central idea that these lines reveal.
What does the woman reveal to James that causes him to react so angrily?
What do you think James will do to Dorian when he finds him?
The duchess is incorrect. "Ugliness" is not one of the seven deadly sins. Visit this website to learn what the seven sins are. (This annotation contains a link)
What distinguishes the structure of this page from all the other pages in the story?
What does this dialogue reveal about Lord Henry's motives for befriending Dorian?
The Duchess and Lord Henry make reference to Greeks and Trojans to introduce a gender dynamic into their conversation.
Why is Dorian feeling a sense of horror?
Wilde repeats the word "imagination" over and over to show that Dorian is creating anxiety in his mind by reviewing the sailors intentions over and over in his head. He is driving himself mad.
Explain what happened to "the man" at the shooting.
This reaction reveals a turning point in the story. Dorian seems to feel sorrow over the fact that James was killed. Could this event change him for the better?
Why do you think Dorian feels ill?
Lord Henry is using his sinful theories to get the Duchess to indulge in her desire for sensations. He not only uses this trick on Dorian but on other people in his circle.
What is motivating Dorian to hurry to the farm house?
Dorian feels relief knowing that James is dead.
The conversation on this page creates mystery because the reader is aware that Dorian knows what happened to Basil.
Which line from the text shows that Dorian is not ready to assume responsibility for his actions?
This dialogue reveals that Dorian is beginning to question his beliefs about the soul. Could he be changing and evolving?
Why does Wilde refer to the way Dorian was in the beginning of the story?
Which line reveals that Dorian has changed for the better?
Good readers notice how characters change throughout a story. As you read this chapter, observe Dorian's thoughts and actions and figure out who he has become.
By destroying the picture, Dorian will
Wilde includes this detail to make the reader feel satisfaction. This is an example of the story coming "full circle." Notice other moves Wilde makes as we near the end of the story.