Study Help Essay Questions


1. Why is Basil Hallward reluctant to exhibit the portrait of Dorian Gray?

2. How does Dorian get the idea of having the portrait age instead of him?

3. What happened to Dorian's mother and father?

4. Who is Mr. Isaacs? How does Dorian describe him?

5. What is Mrs. Vane's secret?

6. Why does Sibyl Vane perform poorly when Basil and Lord Henry see her?

7. How and why does Sibyl die?

8. Where does Dorian hide the portrait? Why?

9. What is the "yellow book"?

10. Why does Basil Hallward want to see Dorian before leaving for Paris?

11. What happens when Basil comments that only God can see Dorian's soul?

12. What favor does Alan Campbell perform for Dorian? Why does he do it?

13. What happens at the opium den to arouse James Vane?

14. How does Dorian escape from James?

15. What does Dorian see in the conservatory window at his country estate, and why is it important to the novel?

16. Sir Geoffrey has a double kill at the hunt. What does he shoot?

17. Briefly describe Hetty Merton and comment on her significance in the novel.

18. What does Dorian see in the portrait after leaving Hetty?

19. What does Dorian decide to do with the portrait?

20. What do Francis, the coachman, and the footman find in the attic?

21. Discuss the Faust theme as it relates to Dorian.

22. Consider the role of Lord Henry in the novel. Discuss both his persona as a social figure and his relationship with Dorian.

23. What is the nature of friendship in the book? Consider specifically Basil, Lord Henry, and Dorian as they relate to each other.

24. Of what importance are sin and redemption in the novel?

25. Discuss the theme of manipulation as it affects Dorian and those whom he influences.

26. What is the role of innocence in this work? Consider specifically Sibyl Vane, Hetty Merton, and Dorian.

27. What does the novel reveal about racial and class prejudice in Wilde's era?

28. Assume that you are a crime reporter for the St. James's Gazette and that your police informers sneak you into Dorian's home to view the final scene. How would you report it? Whom would you interview? What do you think they say?

29. After the events that end the novel, what will Lord Henry have to say at the next dinner party? Invent at least one aphorism for him regarding the matter.

30. Is The Picture of Dorian Gray an immoral book? Why or why not? Write a letter to Wilde in which you attempt to convince him of your position.

31. What role does Aestheticism play in the novel?

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