The role of Lord Henry is absolutely pivotal to the story in 'The Picture Of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. We can tell by the sheer overwhelming and mesmerising experience of a meeting that such an enthralling and flamboyant figure will be life-changing :
"I turned half way around and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself.'
Lord Henry has the natural self-possession and (sometimes arrogance) of people who have too much money. Nothing can touch him and he knows it and he indulges himself in every way possible, even to the extent of making something else in his own image. One of his roles is to hold up for examination to readers the sheer calamity of what can happen when hedonism and ego are taken to the furthest level. To do this Oscar Wilde has almost to make him a caricature, such a monster that no reader can believe that such a monstrous psychopathic personality could ever exist. His role is to shock and to warn, and to serve as a foil for the other characters. Nowadays we might see his displays as an illness and wonder what had happened in his early childhood to cause the switching off of empathy.