What are epigrams? Give 3 examples of epigrams within the novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Epigrams are short, witty or clever statements expressed in one or two sentences. They are almost like proverbs or maxims. Epigrams are memorable because they often point out one of mankind's foibles or one of mankind's truths. For example, "Little strokes fell great oaks" (Ben Franklin). This means that something small can often have great power. When you come across an epigram while reading fiction, your attention is often captured because you read the words and you think to yourself, "Wow! That is profound!" Sometimes you underline the quote so that you will remember it later.

Oscar Wilde was a great one at writing epigrams. Three that I found from The Picture of Dorian Gray are:

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

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