Free Study Guide for The Picture of Dorian Gray: Book Summary |
Lord Henry and Dorian go out into the garden while Basil works on the background of the portrait in the studio. Dorian buries his face in a flower. Lord Henry tells him he is doing just as he should since the senses are the only way to cure the soul. They begin to stroll and Dorian Gray clearly looks upset. He’s afraid of Lord Henry’s influence. Lord Henry urges him to come and sit in the shade to avoid getting a sunburn and ruining his beauty. Dorian wonders why it’s important. Lord Henry tells him it matters more than anything else since his youth is his greatest gift and that it will leave him soon. As they sit down, he implores Dorian to enjoy his youth while he can. He shouldn’t give his life to the "ignorant, the common, and the vulgar." He thinks the age needs a new Hedonism (pursuit of pleasure as the greatest goal in life). Dorian Gray could be its visible symbol.
Dorian Gray listens intently. Suddenly, Basil comes out to get them. He says he’s ready to resume the portrait. Inside, Lord Henry sits down and watches Basil paint. After only a quarter of an hour, Basil says the painting is complete. Lord Henry proclaims it his finest work and offers to buy it. Basil says it’s Dorian’s painting. When Dorian looks at it, he realizes he is beautiful as Lord Henry has been telling him. He hadn’t taken it seriously before. Now he knows what Lord Henry has meant by youth being so short-lived. He realizes the painting will always be beautiful and he will not. He wishes it were reversed. He accuses Basil of liking his art works better than his friends. Basil is shocked at this change in Dorian. He tells him his friendship means more to him than anything. Dorian is so upset that he says he’ll kill himself the moment he realizes he’s growing old. Basil turns to Lord Henry and says it’s his fault. Then he realizes he is arguing with his two best friends and says he’ll destroy the painting to stop the argument. Dorian pulls the knife away from him to stop him. He tells Basil he’s in love with the portrait and thinks of it as part of himself.
The butler brings tea and the men sit down to drink it. Lord Henry proposes they go to the theater that night. Basil refuses the invitation, but Dorian agrees to go. When they get up to go, Basil asks Lord Henry to remember what he asked him in the studio before they went in to see Dorian. Lord Henry shrugs and says he doesn’t even trust himself, so Basil shouldn’t try to trust him.
Beauty lives only for a moment. The theme of this chapter is also one of the central themes of the novel. Dorian Gray is introduced as an un-self-conscious beauty. In the course of this chapter, he is made self-aware. He recognizes his beauty when he sees it represented in Basil Hallward’s portrait. He is prepared for this recognition by Lord Henry who, in the garden, urges him to spend his youth on youthful pursuits, not on philanthropy, and warns him that his youth is his best gift and that it won’t last. All of Basil Hallward’s fears of Lord Henry corrupting Dorian Gray seem to have been borne out.
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. 09 May 2017