Free Study Guide for The Picture of Dorian Gray: Book Summary |
Five years ago, he and Alan had been great friends. Now they never speak. Alan always leaves the room when Dorian comes in at any party they both attend. Alan is a scientist, but when he and Dorian were together, he was also in love with music. They were inseparable for a year and a half. Then they quarreled and have not spoken since. Alan has given up music in favor of science. Dorian becomes hysterical with anxiety as he waits. Finally, the servant announces that Mr. Campbell has arrived.
Dorian loses all anxiety and plays the part of the gracious host. Alan Campbell is stiff with disapproval and hatred. He wants to know why Dorian has called him. Dorian tells him there is a dead body in a room at the top of the stairs and he needs Campbell to dispose of it. Alan tells him to stop talking. He says he will not turn him in, but that he will not have anything to do with it. Dorian tells him he wants him to do it because of Alan’s knowledge of chemistry. He wants him to change the body into a handful of ashes. He at first says it was a suicide, but then admits that he murdered the man upstairs. Dorian begs him to help and Alan refuses to listen. Finally, when he is sure he can’t convince him, Dorian writes something down and tells Alan to read it. Alan is shocked at what he reads. Dorian says if Alan won’t help him, he will send a letter to someone and ruin Alan’s reputation. He tells Alan he is terribly sorry for him for what he will have to do, but tries to console him by saying he does this sort of thing all the time for the pursuit of science so it shouldn’t be too horrible for him.
Finally, Alan says he needs to get things from home. Dorian won’t let him leave. He makes him write down what he needs and sends his servant to get the equipment. Then when it arrives, he sends his servant away for the day to get some orchids in another city. He and Alan carry the equipment upstairs. At the door, Dorian realizes he has left the portrait uncovered for the first time in years. He rushes over to it to cover it. He sees that on the hands, there is a red stain. He covers it and then leaves the room to Alan without looking at the body.
Long after seven o’clock that evening, Alan comes downstairs and says it is finished. He says he never wants to see Dorian again. Dorian thanks him sincerely, saying he saved him from ruin. When Campbell leaves, Dorian rushes upstairs and sees there is no trace of the body.
The psychology of Dorian Gray is perhaps best revealed in this chapter. He wakes up the morning after murdering one of his best friends feeling calm and pleasant. When he remembers what he did, he dreads seeing the body again. He doesn’t feel remorse. He sends for what was probably an ex-lover and forces him on the threat of revealing their past relationship, to dispose of the body so that no trace shows. He has no fear of telling Campbell of what he did because he knows he has power over the man. When he returns to the upstairs room to find no trace of Basil Hallward’s body remaining, he is relieved. It seems that the portrait takes on not only the look of a sinful man, but also the guilt of one. Dorian is perfectly ruthless.
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. 09 May 2017