The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gothic novel. It is also a philosophical novel and a comedy of manners.


The narrator of the novel is anonymous.

Point of View

The point of view of the novel is third person, and 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 that section, Wilde becomes the narrator.


The tone of The Picture of Dorian Gray isothic (dark, supernatural) as well as sardonic and comedic.


The novel is told in the past tense.

Setting (Time & Place)

The Picture of Dorian Gray is set in the 1890s and is set in London, England.


Dorian Gray is the novel’s protagonist.

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.


The novel’s climax occurs when Dorian kills Basil Hallward.

Falling Action

Dorian descends into London’s opium dens. He attempts to express remorse to Lord Henry. Dorian stabs his portrait, thereby killing himself.


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.