Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Dorian Gray, a handsome young man who, while visiting the studio of an artist friend who is painting his portrait, idly wishes that the portrait would grow old while he himself remained young looking. Later, having treated a young woman cruelly, he notices the first sign of alteration in the portrait. Alarmed, he decides to repent and to marry her, but he learns that she has killed herself. He now gives himself over entirely to a life of corruption, under the tutelage of an evil friend. His crimes include murder. At last he decides to destroy the hideous portrait, which has been long locked away. He stabs it with a knife. Hearing a cry, the servants find lying before a portrait of their handsome master a withered, wrinkled body with a knife in its breast.
Lord Henry Wotton
Lord Henry Wotton, a witty, degenerate man who deliberately tempts Dorian into a life of debauchery.
Basil Hallward, Dorian’s artist friend, who paints his portrait. He asks Lord Wotton never to meet Dorian, saying that the older man’s influence would be evil; but Dorian comes to the studio while Lord Wotton is there, and the friendship begins. Hallward and Dorian become estranged; but on his thirty-eighth birthday, Dorian shows Hallward the altered portrait and then, angry because he has betrayed himself, kills Hallward.
Alan Campbell, a young chemist whom Dorian blackmails into disposing of Hallward’s body with fire and chemicals. Campbell later commits suicide under strange circumstances.
Sibyl Vane, a young actress who knows Dorian only as “Prince Charming.” Dorian treats her cruelly, and she kills herself.
James Vane, her brother. He has sworn revenge against “Prince Charming,” but he hesitates to kill Dorian, who looks years too young to be the man who ruined his sister eighteen years before. Assured that Dorian is in fact that man, he follows him to his country house and is accidentally shot and killed during a hunt on the estate.