Why is the preface considered a manifesto?

Instead of introducing the story itself, Wilde uses the preface to succinctly describe aestheticism’s philosophy on the meaning and purpose of art. The conclusion he comes to is often called “art for art’s sake,” that is, art exists to be beautiful and not for any other purpose. In this view, as Wilde famously puts it, “all art is quite useless,” that is, it should not have a moral or instructive function, and in fact, any hint of these takes away from the work’s artistry.

How does Lord Henry influence Dorian Gray?

Lord Henry influences Dorian in several ways. His way of talking convinces Dorian to value pleasure, art, and beauty over goodness. He further awakens Dorian to his own beauty by explaining to him the power youth holds over society. Dorian’s newfound awareness of his appearance eventually leads to the Faustian bargain Dorian makes with his portrait. Finally, Lord Henry gives Dorian the yellow book that introduces him to opium dens and brothels and other darker aspects of hedonism.

What does Basil represent?

A counterpoint to Lord Henry’s corrupting influence, Basil represents Dorian’s moral compass. Indeed, Basil even warns Dorian against Lord Henry’s influence when they meet. After Sibyl’s death, Basil scolds Dorian for going to the theater, giving voice to the heartlessness of his action. Even after seeing what Dorian’s lifestyle has made of his portrait, Basil encourages him toward change and repentance, reminding him that it is “never too late.” Thus, when Dorian stabs Basil, he also rids himself of his last moral guidance.

Does Dorian Gray love Sibyl Vane?

Dorian does not truly love Sibyl as a person but as a piece of art. When he first describes her to Lord Henry, he emphasizes that she changes who she is each night, truly embodying the roles she portrays without showing a semblance of selfhood. He talks about marrying her and setting her up on more prominent stages in the same breath. Sibyl exists to Dorian as art for art’s sake, that is, her value is in her beauty and artistry. The moment she shows herself to be human, Dorian loses all interest.

How does James Vane die?

James Vane dies in a shooting accident during a hunting party at Dorian’s country estate. After learning from the woman at the opium den that Dorian has seemingly not aged in eighteen years, James realizes that Dorian is indeed the “prince charming” who broke his sister’s heart. James stalks Dorian to Selby Royal, determined to get his revenge. He lurks around the estate, terrifying Dorian. During a morning hunt, Sir Geoffrey, while aiming for a hare, accidentally shoots James, who is hiding in the grass.