The Picture of Dorian Gray Questions and Answers
by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray book cover
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What is the author's purpose for writing  "The Picture of Dorian Gray"?

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Aside from the preface of the novel, there is a significant amount of revealing information that can be extracted from the 1895 court records of the three trials of Oscar Wilde.

H. Montgomery Hyde is one of several who published these transcripts. From the contents, we can get a fantastic view into the mind of Oscar Wilde and realize that the man was much more than just his writings or even his reputation.

In all three of his trials, Oscar Wilde continuously defended the publication of his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by stating that,

In writing a play or a book, I am concerned entirely with literature—that is, with art. I aim not at doing good or evil, but in trying to make a thing that will have some quality of beauty. (full transcript of the trial can be found here)

With these words, Wilde is asserting his position as an aesthete, or someone who follows the canons of aestheticism. This movement advocated for the appreciation of beauty in every form and pushed forward the...

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I believe there are many reasons.  I believe he meant it as a metaphor, that a picture can be painted, or a book written, one so beautiful or artfully done that it is immortal in the viewers eyes, but the picture or book itself could erode over time.  Events unforseen could destroy its original beauty, and if the artist saw what his masterpiece has become, then he would theoretically die.