illustration of the upper-right corner of Dorian Gray's picture

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

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What happened to Dorian’s mother and father in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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The fate of Dorian's parents is a tragic story which is told to the reader in Chapter Three. Dorian's mother, the beautiful Margaret Devereux, fell in love and eloped with a "penniless young fellow" who was in the Army. Only a few months after the marriage, however, the man was killed in a duel. According to Lord Fermor, Lord Henry's uncle, the duel was arranged by Margaret's father, Lord Kelso. He was very angry at his daughter's elopement and paid a man to ensure that her husband died. Tragically, Margaret died within one year, leaving the young Dorian an orphan.

The details of Dorian's parentage not only add a sense of mystery to his character, they also foreshadow his own scandalous adult life. Like the elopement of his mother, Dorian's decadent lifestyle shocks and scandalizes English society. In addition, just like Lady Margaret, Dorian pursues his own desires, without any regard for the consequences.

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Both of his parents are dead. Here is what eNotes has to say about them:

Dorian Gray is twenty years old when the novel begins. He is the grandson of Lord Kelso, and his mother was the beautiful Lady Margaret Devereux. Margaret married a man Lord Kelso did not approve of, and her father arranged for the man to be killed in a duel. Dorian’s mother died within a year, and Dorian was raised by his grandfather. When Dorian comes of age at twenty-one, he will inherit enough money to enable him to live comfortably.

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