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

 

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BOOK NOTES SUMMARY


CHAPTER 19


Summary

Lord Henry tells Dorian he doesnít believe him when he says he is now going to be good. He says Dorian is already perfect and shouldnít change at al. Dorian insists that he has done many terrible things and has decided to stop that and become a good person. He says heís been staying in the country lately and has resolved to change. Lord Henry says anyone can be good in the country. Dorian says he has recently done a good thing. He wooed a young girl as beautiful as Sibyl Vane was and loved her. He has been going to see her several times a week all month. They were planning to run away together and suddenly he decided to leave her with her innocence. Lord Henry says the novelty of the emotion must have given Dorian as much pleasure as he used to get in stealing the innocence of girls. Dorian begs Henry not to make jokes about his reform. Lord Henry asks him if he thinks this girl will now ever be able to be happy after she was loved by someone as beautiful and graceful as he is. Now she will be forever dissatisfied with love. He wonders if the girl will even commit suicide.

Dorian begs Henry to stop making fun of him. He tells him he wants to be better than he has been in life. After a while, he brings up the subject of Basilís disappearance. He asks Henry what people are saying about it and wonders if anyone thinks foul play was involved. Henry makes light of it. He imagines that Basil fell off a bus into the Seine and drowned. Dorian asks Henry what he would think if he said he had killed Basil. Henry laughs at the idea, saying Dorian is too delicate for something as gross as murder. Lord Henry says he hates the fact that Basilís art had become so poor in the last years of his life. After Dorian stopped sitting for him, his art became trite.

Lord Henry begs Dorian to play Chopin for him and talk to him. Dorian begins playing and remembers a line from Hamlet that reminds him of the portrait Basil painted of him: "Like the painting of a sorrow,/ A face without a heart." He repeats the line over again thinking how much it suits the portrait Basil painted of him. Lord Henry thinks of a line he heard when he passed by a preacher in the park last Sunday: "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Dorian is shocked at the saying and wonders why Henry would ask him this question. Henry laughs it off and moves on to another topic.


Henry urges Dorian to stop being so serious. He tells him he looks better than he ever has and wonders what his secret is for warding off old age. He revels in the exquisite life Dorian has led and wishes he could change places with him. He tells Dorian his life has been a work of art. Dorian stops playing and tells Lord Henry that if he knew what he had done in life, he would turn from him.

Lord Henry urges Dorian to come to the club with him. He wants to introduce him to Lord Poole, Bournemouthís eldest son who has been imitating Dorian and wants to meet him terribly. He then suggests that Dorian come to his place the next day and meet Lady Baranksome who wants to consult him about some tapestry she is going to buy. He asks Dorian why he no longer sees the Duchess and guesses that the Duchess is too clever, one never liking being around clever women.

Finally, Dorian leaves after promising to come back later.


Notes

Dorian spends his last evening with his friend Lord Henry. He tells Lord Henry that he plans to reform himself and asks his friend not to speak to him any more with his characteristic sneer. This chapter serves to convey some important information to the reader and to show Dorian in his submissive relation to Lord Henry one last time. The reader finds out that people are still talking about the disappearance of Basil Hallward, but no one suspects foul play. Since Basil was in the habit of never telling people where he was going when he went on trips, people assume he is doing the same now. The reader also finds out that Alan Campbell has committed suicide. Dorianís one accomplice in the death of Basil Hallward is now gone. He is completely safe from detection.

The second function of this chapter, to show Dorian continuing to be dominated by Lord Henry, is only fully revealed in the last chapter. Dorian tries to convince Lord Henry that he will now reform himself and be good. He gives the evidence of his change when he tells of his recent flirtation of a country girl named Hetty. Just when she was ready to run away with him, he left her. Lord Henry tells him it is not a reform, but just another kind of pleasure, the pleasure in renouncing pleasure. He says Dorian didnít do it for the moral worth of it, but for his own ego.


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