Preface & Chapter One

After a series of epigrams highlighting Wilde’s aesthetic philosophy, the novel begins in the London home of Basil Hallward, an artist who shares his latest painting with the clever and scandalous Lord Henry. Basil describes how he met Dorian Gray and since has become an object of obsession for Basil. As Lord Henry recalls having heard the name Dorian Gray from Lady Agatha, the butler announces Dorian’s arrival, and against Basil’s wishes, Lord Henry meets Dorian.

Chapter Two

While Dorian sits for Basil’s painting, Lord Henry discusses his personal philosophy. Lord Henry speaks with Dorian about the fading qualities of youth and beauty, urging Dorian to live life to the fullest. Dorian curses the fact that while his portrait will never grow old, he himself will, and as a gift, Basil promises to give Dorian the painting.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Preface & Chapters One & Two

Chapter Three

Lord Henry learns about Dorian’s tragic past and becomes fascinated with Dorian, setting his sights on influencing him. Lord Henry goes to dine at the home of Lady Agatha where several guests, including Dorian, have gathered. Lord Henry appalls the guests with his selfishness and hedonism, but his charm enraptures them, particularly Dorian.

Chapter Four

Dorian shares the news with Lord Henry that he has fallen in love with an actress named Sibyl Vane, and Lord Henry agrees to accompany Dorian to see her play the lead in Romeo and Juliet. After Dorian departs, Lord Henry congratulates himself on the influence he has had over Dorian, and later, he receives a telegram from Dorian informing him that he is engaged to Sibyl Vane.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Three & Four

Chapter Five

Sibyl is enraptured by her union to Dorian, but her family has doubts about Dorian’s intentions. While on a walk with her brother James, Sibyl spots Dorian, but Dorian quickly disappears. James pledges that if Dorian ever hurts Sibyl, he will kill him.

Chapter Six

Lord Henry tells Basil of Dorian’s plan to marry Sibyl, a fact that worries Basil because Dorian would be marrying beneath his social position. When Dorian enters and tells the story of his engagement, Lord Henry defends his point of view concerning the virtues of selfishness by claiming that it is nature that dictates the pursuit of pleasure.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Five & Six

Chapter Seven

The men attend the theatre to watch Sibyl’s play, but Sibyl gives a disappointing performance. Dorian confronts Sibyl backstage, and she says that before meeting Dorian she was able to inhabit other characters, but now that she has met Dorian and has true feelings for him, she has no interest in false emotions. Dorian disparages Sibyl, calls off their engagement, and returns home, where he notices that Basil’s portrait of him has changed.

Chapter Eight

The face on Dorian’s portrait has indeed changed, and while he tries to come up with a rational explanation, Lord Henry arrives with the news that Sibyl has committed suicide. Lord Henry convinces Dorian not to go to the police or wallow in guilt, but rather appreciate her suicide as an example of undying love. Dorian resolves to live a life of hedonism while his portrait incurs the marks of age and experience.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Seven & Eight

Chapter Nine

When Basil arrives to offer condolences, Dorian does not express any remorse. Basil attempts to remove the screen covering Dorian’s painting, at which point Dorian stops him and insists that the portrait never be seen in public. After Basil leaves, Dorian decides to hide the portrait.

Chapter Ten

Dorian locks the portrait in a room, musing that if no one sees the painting’s deterioration, then it bears no importance. Dorian becomes entranced by a book Lord Henry lent him that confuses the boundaries between vice and virtue.
Chapter Eleven    After years pass, Dorian maintains his youth and beauty as his soul corrupts. Dorian keeps up with contemporary ideas and devotes himself to the study of beautiful things. All the while, Dorian worries that someone will steal the painting.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Nine & Ten

Chapter Eleven

After years pass, Dorian maintains his youth and beauty as his soul corrupts. Dorian keeps up with contemporary ideas and devotes himself to the study of beautiful things. All the while, Dorian worries that someone will steal the painting.

Chapter Twelve

Dorian encounters Basil, who warns Dorian of the many rumors being spread around him, and questions Dorian as to why so many of his friendships have ended. Dorian offers to show Basil the diary of his daily life, certain that it will answer all of Basil’s questions.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapter Eleven & Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Dorian reveals the portrait to Basil, who is horrified by the change that his work has undergone, and he curses the painting and begs Dorian to pray for forgiveness. Dorian stabs Basil repeatedly and hides his belongings in a secret compartment in the wall.

Chapter Fourteen

The following morning, an estranged friend of Dorian’s, Alan Campbell, arrives, and reluctantly agrees to help Dorian dispose of Basil’s body using his knowledge of chemistry.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Thirteen & Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Dorian leaves a party early, heads home to burn Basil’s belongings, and draws out a canister of opium. At midnight, Dorian goes to a London neighborhood popular for their opium dens.

Chapter Sixteen

A woman at the opium den addresses Dorian as “Prince Charming.” Upon hearing this, James Vane recalls that “Prince Charming” was Sibyl’s nickname for Dorian and he seizes Dorian from behind. Dorian explains that the man James is looking for was in love with Sibyl eighteen years ago, and since Dorian has not aged, he cannot possibly be the same man. James accepts Dorian’s story, but when the woman tells James that Dorian has been visiting the dens for eighteen years, James becomes furious for having let Dorian escape.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Fifteen & Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Dorian faints, and he recalls seeing the face of James Vane pressed against the window.

Chapter Eighteen

Dorian joins a shooting party, and when entranced by the gracefulness of a hare, Dorian begs the party not to shoot it. However, when the hare is shot, they hear the cry of a man. The man dies instantly. Dorian rides to a farm where the body is kept and identifies it as that of James Vane.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Seventeen & Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Dorian expresses his desire to reform himself and be virtuous. Lord Henry dismisses Dorian’s intentions and changes the subject to Alan Campbell’s suicide, as well as the mystery surrounding Basil’s disappearance, at which point Dorian makes Lord Henry laugh when he suggests that he was the one who murdered Basil.

Chapter Twenty

Dorian visits the locked room to see the portrait, but after realizing that his decision to reform has not altered the painting, Dorian strikes it with a knife. Dorian’s servants break into the room and discover the body of an old, wrinkled man with a knife plunged into his heart, while Dorian’s painting is unharmed. Dorian’s servants examine the rings on the old man’s hands and identify him as Dorian Gray.

Read a full Summary & Analysis of Chapters Nineteen & Twenty