How are the following  illustrated in The Picture of Dorain Gray?List: appearances, transformation, sexuality and sexual identity.

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Appearances are illustrated quite dramatically in the story. The first thing we find is that Basil Hallward is busy and enthralled with this young man whose physical appearance is out of this world. The looks of this man even make Lord Henry Wooton cave in and develop an unnatural interest. Equally, appearances are important because they will unveil the inner theme of the story, which is that Dorian Gray is only appearance, and that his beauty is a freak accident as he, himself, became a freak.

Transformation is seen as a lusty and quiet way to move from morality to immorality. It is also seen as the silent manner in which our sins are revealed to the public: This is why the picture began to change.

Sexuality and sexual identity only come to us as innuendos in the story: They are presented disguised as the word "shame", when in fact it is a direct allegory to homosexuality and possible sodomy. In the case of the men that Dorian "shamed," "left the city," killed themselves or cannot be accepted in the clubs, one is left but to imagine what went on there. In the case of Sybil Vane, Dorian curiously admits that he couldn't touch her so that her innocence is not taken away. We are not sure as readers if this was the case. After all, Dorian is obviously gay and so are the rest of the characters. But considering that Oscar Wilde wrote this story as a reflection of his own personality and life, there is no question that this is what he meant.

Read the study guide:
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question