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Free Study Guide for The Picture of Dorian Gray: Book Summary

 

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LITERARY ELEMENTS


SETTING

The novel is set in London at the end of the nineteenth century; one chapter is set at Dorian Gray’s country estate, Selby Royal.


CHARACTER LIST


Major Characters


Basil Hallward
The artist who paints the portrait of Dorian Gray. He is so enamored of Dorian Gray that he feels himself dominated by Dorian. His art changes when he paints Dorian Gray. He is eventually murdered by Dorian Gray when he tries to urge Dorian to reform himself.


Lord Henry Wotton
The aristocrat who corrupts Dorian Gray with his ideas that morality is hypocrisy used to cover people’s inadequacies. He decides early on that he wants to dominate Dorian Gray.


Dorian Gray
The object of fascination for everyone. He is the most beautiful man anyone has ever seen. He prays that he should change places with a portrait painted of him when he is quite young. He prays that he will stay young forever and the portrait will show signs of age and decadence. His prayer comes true and he remains beautiful even while being corrupt.



Minor Characters


Lady Brandon
A society lady who has a "crush" at which Basil Hallward meets Dorian Gray.


Lady Agatha
A philanthropist who tells Lord Henry of Dorian Gray.


Lord Fermor
Lord Henry’s uncle, who makes his money on coal mines and lives the life of luxury.


Lord Kelso
Grandfather to Dorian Gray. He arranged for his daughter’s husband, Dorian’s father, to be killed in a duel.


Margaret Devereaux
Dorian Gray’s mother, a great beauty who married a penniless soldier. She dies giving birth to Dorian.


Duchess of Harley
A guest at Aunt Agatha’s luncheon. She is well liked by everyone.


Sir Thomas Burdon
A guest at Aunt Agatha’s luncheon. He is a Radical member of Parliament who likes to eat with Tories since they serve better food.


Mr. Erskine of Treadley
A guest who attends Aunt Agatha’s luncheon. He is "an old gentlemen of considerable charm and culture."


Mrs. Vandeleur
One of Aunt Agatha’s friends. She is "a perfect saint amongst women, but so dreadfully dowdy that she reminded one of a badly bound hymnbook."


Lord Faudel
A guest at Aunt Agatha’s luncheon. He is a "most intelligent middle-aged mediocrity."


Dartmoor Wotton
Lord Henry’s elder brother, who is contemplating marrying an American woman.


Victoria, Lady Henry
Lord Henry’s wife, who eventually leaves him for another man and sues him for a divorce.


Sibyl Vane
An actress with whom Dorian falls in love. She loses her acting ability when she falls in love and Dorian rejects her because of it. Then she commits suicide.


Mrs. Vane
Sibyl Vane’s mother, also an actress, who has difficulty expressing a non-dramatic emotion.


James Vane
Sibyl Vane’s brother, who goes off to become a sailor, but not before he vows to kill his sister’s lover if he ever finds out that the man hurts her. He stalks Dorian Gray years later and is shot by accident during a hunting party.


Victor
Dorian Gray’s manservant. Dorian begins to suspect Victor of recognizing the idea of the portrait and eventually fires him.


Leaf
Dorian Gray’s housekeeper.


Mr. Hubbard
Proprietor of a frame shop. He helps Dorian move the portrait to the upstairs room.


Mr. Alan Campell
An ex-lover of Dorian Gray. He is a scientist. When Dorian kills Basil Hallward, he calls Alan Campbell to come and destroy the body so no evidence will remain.


Lady Gwendolyn
Lord Henry’s sister, who is ruined by her association with Dorian Gray.


Lady Narborough
An older woman who entertains Dorian at her dinner party the night after he disposes of Basil Hallward’s body.


Adrian Singleton
A young man who is ruined by his association with Dorian Gray. He is an opium addict.


Duchess of Monmouth
A woman with whom Dorian Gray conducts a flirtation. She attends his country house party.


Duke of Monmouth
Husband to the Duchess and collector of insects.


Geoffrey Clouston
The Duchess’s brother, who accidentally kills James Vane.


Hetty Merton
A country girl whom Dorian Gray woos and then leaves before ruining her innocence.


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