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The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Dorian Gray -  A radiantly handsome, impressionable, and wealthy young gentleman, whose portrait the artist Basil Hallward paints. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian becomes extremely concerned with the transience of his beauty and begins to pursue his own pleasure above all else. He devotes himself to having as many experiences as possible, whether moral or immoral, elegant or sordid.

Read an in-depth analysis of Dorian Gray.

Lord Henry Wotton -  A nobleman and a close friend of Basil Hallward. Urbane and witty, Lord Henry is perpetually armed and ready with well-phrased epigrams criticizing the moralism and hypocrisy of Victorian society. His pleasure-seeking philosophy of “new Hedonism,” which espouses garnering experiences that stimulate the senses without regard for conventional morality, plays a vital role in Dorian’s development.

Read an in-depth analysis of Lord Henry Wotton.

Basil Hallward -  An artist, and a friend of Lord Henry. Basil becomes obsessed with Dorian after meeting him at a party. He claims that Dorian possesses a beauty so rare that it has helped him realize a new kind of art; through Dorian, he finds “the lines of a fresh school.” Dorian also helps Basil realize his artistic potential, as the portrait of Dorian that Basil paints proves to be his masterpiece.

Read an in-depth analysis of Basil Hallward.

Sibyl Vane -  A poor, beautiful, and talented actress with whom Dorian falls in love. Sibyl’s love for Dorian compromises her ability to act, as her experience of true love in life makes her realize the falseness of affecting emotions onstage.
James Vane -  Sibyl’s brother, a sailor bound for Australia. James cares deeply for his sister and worries about her relationship with Dorian. Distrustful of his mother’s motives, he believes that Mrs. Vane’s interest in Dorian’s wealth disables her from properly protecting Sibyl. As a result, James is hesitant to leave his sister.
Mrs. Vane -  Sibyl and James’s mother. Mrs. Vane is a faded actress who has consigned herself and her daughter to a tawdry theater company, the owner of which has helped her to pay her debts. She conceives of Dorian Gray as a wonderful alliance for her daughter because of his wealth; this ulterior motive, however, clouds her judgment and leaves Sibyl vulnerable.
Alan Campbell -  Once an intimate friend, Alan Campbell is one of many promising young men who have severed ties with Dorian because of Dorian’s sullied reputation.
Lady Agatha -  Lord Henry’s aunt. Lady Agatha is active in charity work in the London slums.
Lord Fermor  -  Lord Henry’s irascible uncle. Lord Fermor tells Henry the story of Dorian’s parentage.
Duchess of Monmouth -  A pretty, bored young noblewoman who flirts with Dorian at his country estate.
Victoria Wotton -  Lord Henry’s wife. Victoria appears only once in the novel, greeting Dorian as he waits for Lord Henry. She is described as an untidy, foolishly romantic woman with “a perfect mania for going to church.”
Victor -  Dorian’s servant. Although Victor is a trustworthy servant, Dorian becomes suspicious of him and sends him out on needless errands to ensure that he does not attempt to steal a glance at Dorian’s portrait.
Mrs. Leaf  -  Dorian Gray’s housekeeper. Mrs. Leaf is a bustling older woman who takes her work seriously.

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*Spoiler*

by Aecio, April 14, 2013

In the end of the book, when Dorian stabs his cursed picture: Does it mean his soul is pure again, for his dead body now endures his age and sins while the picture that represented his soul is young again, or it's just about his curse being broken?

3 Comments

43 out of 48 people found this helpful

Sparknotes is pissing me off today

by GrammarJunkie18, April 20, 2014

First of all, there are only 3 important characters in this book. They probably either represent the id, the ego, and the superego (obviously Lord Henry being the id, Dorian Gray being the ego, and Basil being the superego) or represent Dorian as a normal person with Lord Henry as the devil and Basil the voice of reason. I can't believe you're not even going to discuss this possibility at all!

Second of all, one of the major themes of the novel is paradoxes. Obviously. I mean, that's what Lord Henry does, starting with his very first ... Read more

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46 out of 50 people found this helpful

Selling his soul

by estefy913, April 29, 2014

Would Lord Henry, or maybe the subject of "influence", play the part of the devil in a sense since he did sell his soul? I am having difficulty determining who or what he sold his soul to?

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2 out of 3 people found this helpful

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