What questions can I ask about Chapter Two of The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter Two is arguably the most important chapter in The Picture of Dorian Gray for two reasons and, as such, provides a lot of opportunity for asking questions about the text.

First of all, it is in Chapter Two that Dorian meets Lord Henry, the man who will play a pivotal role in the course of his life. It is interesting to note that Basil did not want the pair to meet, so you may want to ask what caused his reservations. Did he foresee the influence that Lord Henry might have on the young and naive Dorian? 

We can also ask some questions about the meeting itself. Why is Dorian so interested and compelled by Lord Henry, and what is the significance of Lord Henry's comment: "All influence is immoral?" Does this, perhaps, foreshadow some of the events which occur later in the book? 

Secondly, this chapter is important because Dorian sees the portrait of himself for the first time and "gives his soul" so that he will stay young and beautiful while the portrait grows old and ugly. It is feelings of intense jealousy which prompt Dorian to make this supernatural pact, but it is worth asking why he is "jealous of everything that does not die." Is this the beginning of Lord Henry's influence or is it some other factor at play? 

Dorian's desire to own the portrait is another important aspect of this chapter. Why does he feel such a strong desire to own it and why does he object to Lord Henry buying it? 

Finally, what is the significance of Lord Henry's comment that Dorian "has lived" since this morning? Is he recognising his own corrupting influence on Dorian? This is an important question to consider because Chapter Two marks the beginning of Dorian's separation from Basil and his transformation into a sinful dandy who pursues his own pleasure, regardless of the cost. 

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The Picture of Dorian Gray

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