full title The Picture of Dorian Gray
author Oscar Wilde
type of work Novel
genre Gothic; philosophical; comedy of manners
time and place written 1890, London
date of first publication The first edition of the novel was published in 1890 in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. A second edition, complete with six additional chapters, was published the following year.
publisher The 1891 edition was published by Ward, Lock & Company.
narrator The narrator is anonymous.
point of view The point of view is third person, omniscient. The narrator chronicles both the objective or external world and the subjective or internal thoughts and feelings of the characters. There is one short paragraph where a first-person point of view becomes apparent; in this section, Wilde becomes the narrator.
tone Gothic (dark, supernatural); sardonic; comedic
setting (time) 1890s
setting (place) London, England
protagonist Dorian Gray
major conflict Dorian Gray, having promised his soul in order to live a life of perpetual youth, must try to reconcile himself to the bodily decay and dissipation that are recorded in his portrait.
rising action Dorian notices the change in his portrait after ending his affair with Sibyl Vane; he commits himself wholly to the “yellow book” and indulges his fancy without regard for his reputation; the discrepancy between his outer purity and his inner depravity surges.
climax Dorian kills Basil Hallward.
falling action Dorian descends into London’s opium dens; he attempts to express remorse to Lord Henry; he stabs his portrait, thereby killing himself.
themes The purpose of art; the supremacy of youth and beauty; the surface nature of society; the negative consequences of influence
motifs The color white; the picture of Dorian Gray; homoerotic male relationships
symbols The opium den; James Vane; the yellow book
foreshadowing The illegitimacy of Sibyl and James, as well as Sibyl’s portrayal of Juliet from Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, foreshadow the doomed nature of Sibyl’s relationship with Dorian Gray.