The Picture of Dorian Gray
Discussion Guide:

A Few Conversation Starters

the picture of dorian gray discussion guide

Use this discussion guide to inspire in-depth thinking, and jump-start a conversation about The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. There’s plenty here to set your mental wheels in motion.

  1. In the preface (be sure to read it), Wilde writes that “there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book.” Do you agree with Wilde’s statement? If so, why? If not, why?
  2. Who is Dorian Gray? Can we characterize him as either good or evil? When Basil Hallward says the painting is the “real Dorian,” is that true?
  3. What is the relationship between Basil and Dorian…from beginning to end?
  4. .In what way does Lord Henry affect Dorian’s character? And, what is it that Dorian fears?
  5. What set of beliefs does Lord Henry live by? How does he view Victorian era morality, and in what ways does he challenge it? Why, for instance, does he believe it is not only wrong, but futile for the individual to resist temptation?
  6. Is Lord Henry’s belief in the freedom of the individual evil? If so, why? If not, why?
  7. What does Sibyl Vane represent to Dorian? Why does he leave her? Did he really love her?
  8. Although Wilde never gives the yellow book a title, Wilde has insinuated that it is based on Joris-Karl Huysman’s novel, A Rebours, meaning “Against the Grain” or “Against Nature.” How does that apply to the text?
  9. What does Dorian’s portrait represent? And, why does Dorian hide it in the attic?
  10. What does the ending mean?

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