Alan Campbell is a former friend of Dorian’s, a chemist whom Dorian enlists to help him dispose of Basil’s body. Dorian’s behavior toward Alan evokes Lord Henry’s temptation of young Dorian. Dorian introduces Alan to poetry just as Lord Henry awakens Dorian’s appreciation for art and beauty. In the same way that Lord Henry opens a new world of the aesthete lifestyle to Dorian, Dorian becomes to Alan “everything that is wonderful and fascinating in life.” Wilde dances around what exactly occurred between Alan and Dorian to destroy their friendship and again about what secret Dorian intends to use to blackmail him. Because of the parallel with Dorian’s relationship with Lord Henry, it’s easy to assume both the friendship-ending incident and the blackmail may be sexually charged. The relationship parallels force us to compare Dorian to Lord Henry, further emphasizing that Dorian’s corruption has gone far beyond what Lord Henry could envision.

Unlike in Dorian’s relationship with Lord Henry, Alan eventually rejects the hedonistic lifestyle, retreating firmly into his science. By breaking free of Dorian, Alan upends the power dynamic in their relationship. Even at the end of the novel, Dorian announces his plans to change for the better to Lord Henry as if seeking his approval, which suggests a kind of subservience. In contrast, Alan is so free of Dorian’s influence that Dorian must resort to blackmail to convince him to help dispose of Basil’s body. Alan’s independence may be a commentary on art’s seductive nature. Alan’s first love is science, and while he appreciates music, he does not truly love art and beauty. Science is inherently rooted in the natural world, an attempt to describe reality. Thus, while Alan may be distracted for a time by the beauty of the aesthetic, pleasure-seeking world Dorian represents, he is too grounded in reality to lose himself there.