The Picture of Dorian Gray Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are the characteristics of Dorian Gray that lead to his downfall in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

Expert Answers info

James Phillips, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseProfessional Researcher, Current Graduate Student

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from The University of Edinburgh

bookPh.D. from The University of Edinburgh

calendarEducator since 2019

write206 answers

starTop subject is Literature

At the beginning of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian is twenty years old, young, beautiful, and innocent. He is also a shy young man who is prone to blushing when meeting new people.

Dorian Gray is my dearest friend. He has a simple and beautiful nature.

It is when Dorian is introduced to Lord Henry Wotton through their mutual friend the artist Basil Hallward, that Dorian’s character changes dramatically. Dorian is easily influenced and Lord Henry is a cynical man without morals, who believes in the philosophy of ‘new Hedonism’ and the self-indulgent pursuit of pleasure. Lord Henry awakens Dorian to the truth about his beauty whilst also warning him to use it selfishly as it will not last forever. This warning sets the action of the novel in motion when Dorian announces his envy of his portrait, which Basil has just painted.

I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me... Every moment that passes takes something from me and gives something to it. Oh, if it...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 675 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,070 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

miss-elle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write34 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and Business

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

elppa | Student

Ultimately, his flaw was his impressionability. I think it could be interpreted here that Wilde was mocking the Victorian belief at the time that children should remain as innocent as possible and know as little about the cruelties and "evils" of the real world as they can.

Dorian could be seen as a literal manifestation of that sort of upbringing, and because he was so naive in the beginning and remained so impressionable, it was easy for him to become narcissistic and vain without any full realization of his actions. Because he was so "innocent", it was that much easier for him be swallowed up by evil and insanity.

Even in the end, I don't think Dorian ever became as cynical as Lord Henry. (it's a while since I read the book though) He was still just as impressionable, corrupted as he was. Everything he became was born from outside influences, never really from himself. Narcissism and selfishness were sort of byproducts.