The Picture of Dorian Gray Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
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What are some literary devices used in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would single out three devices Wilde uses with particular skill: foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism.

The most obvious instance of the first of these is Dorian's wish that he will never age and that the portrait will age instead—of course, this is what ends up happening, except for one thing. In addition to "aging," the portrait also reveals Dorian's soul, his inner self and the "evil" he has become. This in itself leads to the second literary device, irony. It's ironic that Dorian, in making this wish, thinks the outcome will be something good for him. It turns out that the alteration of the portrait becomes a kind of self-perpetuating process. When Dorian notices that the picture has changed, after his first reprehensible act in rejecting Sibyl, this somehow causes him fatalistically to accept his descent and willfully to continue his downward spiral. And the portrait becomes more and more loathsome as he does so.

A second instance of irony, probably not often noted, is that Lord...

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Thomas Mccord eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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