Presentation Slides on Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Presentation Slides on Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde, born on October 16, 1854, in Dublin, Ireland, and passing away on November 30, 1900, in Paris, France, was a renowned Irish writer celebrated for his wit, poetry, and plays. His literary contributions have left an indelible mark on English literature and society at large.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray," Wilde's only novel published in 1890, underwent significant revisions in 1891, adding a preface and six additional chapters. This expanded version was published as a single-volume work and serves as a profound exploration of aestheticism and the consequences of vanity.

Background and Publication

Initially serialized in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" sparked controversy and critical debate. Critics condemned its perceived moral decadence and provocative themes, which challenged Victorian-era conventions.

Wilde's revision in 1891 included a preface that defended his artistic choices and philosophical beliefs, particularly his view that art should be appreciated for its intrinsic beauty rather than serving moral or political agendas.


The novel revolves around three central characters:

  • Dorian Gray: A young and exceptionally handsome man whose portrait becomes a symbolic representation of his soul's corruption.
  • Lord Henry Wotton: A charismatic aristocrat whose hedonistic philosophy influences Dorian to pursue a life of pleasure and aestheticism.
  • Basil Hallward: A talented artist who initially idealizes Dorian's beauty and later becomes captivated by the portrait that reflects Dorian's true nature.

Plot Summary

The novel opens with Basil Hallward, a well-known artist, completing his portrait of Dorian Gray in his London studio. Dorian, introduced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, captivates Basil with his youth and beauty. As Basil paints multiple portraits of Dorian, he idealizes him as a figure from Greek mythology, highlighting Dorian's timeless beauty.

Lord Henry, impressed by Dorian's physical appearance, introduces him to his philosophy of hedonism, emphasizing the pursuit of pleasure and beauty as life's primary goals. Intrigued and influenced by Lord Henry's beliefs, Dorian becomes increasingly infatuated with his own image and wishes that the portrait would age instead of him, allowing him to retain his youth and beauty indefinitely.

As Dorian immerses himself in a life of debauchery and moral decadence, the portrait painted by Basil begins to change, reflecting Dorian's inner corruption and sinful deeds. Despite his outwardly unchanged appearance, Dorian's portrait becomes increasingly grotesque, depicting the moral decay hidden beneath his youthful façade.

Themes and Philosophical Underpinnings

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" explores several profound themes:

  • Aestheticism: Wilde's belief that art should be valued for its beauty rather than serving didactic or moral purposes.
  • Mortality and Decay: The novel examines the fleeting nature of youth and beauty, contrasting Dorian's outward appearance with the decay depicted in his portrait.
  • Moral Corruption: Dorian's descent into vice and cruelty serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked hedonism and the pursuit of pleasure.


In the novel's climactic conclusion, Dorian confronts the portrait that now reflects his true, corrupted self. Consumed by guilt and despair, he attempts to destroy the portrait, ultimately ending his own life. The novel concludes with the portrait reverting to its original, unblemished state, while Dorian's body is discovered as an aged, decrepit figure, illustrating the consequences of his immoral choices.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" remains a timeless work that challenges societal norms and explores the complexities of human nature. Wilde's masterful prose and exploration of provocative themes continue to captivate readers, making the novel a seminal work in English literature.

Comprehension Questions

  1. Who is the artist who paints Dorian Gray's portrait?
  2. What philosophical beliefs does Lord Henry Wotton advocate for?
  3. How does Dorian Gray's portrait change throughout the novel, and what does it symbolize?
  4. What themes does Oscar Wilde explore in "The Picture of Dorian Gray"?
  5. What is the ultimate fate of Dorian Gray and his portrait?
Study Guide

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