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The Picture of Dorian Gray, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Context 5

Summary 6

Characters 8

Dorian Gray 8

Lord Henry Wotton 8

Basil Hallward 9

Sibyl Vane 10

James Vane 10

Mrs. Vane 10

Alan Campbell 10

Lady Agatha 10

Lord Fermor 10

Duchess of Monmouth 10

Victoria Wotton 10

Victor 10

Mrs. Leaf 10

Themes, Motifs, and Symbols 11

Themes 11

The Purpose of Art 11

The Supremacy of Youth and Beauty 11

The Superficial Nature of Society 12

The Negative Consequences of Influence 12

Motifs 12

The Picture of Dorian Gray 12

Homoerotic Male Relationships 12

The Color White 13

Symbols 13

The Opium Dens 13

James Vane 13

The Yellow Book 13

Important Quotations Explained 15

1. 15

2. 15

3. 16

4. 16

5. 17

Sample Answers 18

Discuss the character of Lord Henry and his impact on Dorian. 18

Discuss the role of homoeroticism in the novel. 19

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book,” Wilde says in the Preface. “Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” Does the novel confirm this argument? 20

Aestheticism and Morality in The Picture of Dorian Gray 21

Context

Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and at Magdalen College, Oxford, and settled in London, where he married Constance Lloyd in 1884. In the literary world of Victorian London, Wilde fell in with an artistic crowd that included W. B. Yeats, the great Irish poet, and Lillie Langtry, mistress to the Prince of Wales. A great conversationalist and a famous wit, Wilde began by publishing mediocre poetry but soon achieved widespread fame for his comic plays. The first, Vera; or, The Nihilists, was published in 1880. Wilde followed this work with Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Although these plays relied upon relatively simple and familiar plots, they rose well above convention with their brilliant dialogue and biting sat...

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