Discussion Questions: Dorian Gray
This week we’re taking a look at The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde’s only novel, which was used against him at his trial in 1895. Click here for background on the LT Classics Challenge, and get your answers ready for the post on Thursday!
Lord Henry (a character whom some argue is based on Wilde himself) seems to speak entirely in bons mots or aphorisms. Do you have a favorite, or is there one that you think holds a certain truth? Also, how do you feel about Wilde’s technique with this character — are all of his witticisms distracting, charming, or simply an egotistical exercise for Wilde himself?
Discuss how Wilde uses the theater and Dorian’s portrait to explore the relationship between reality and facade. Ultimately, which does Wilde decide is more important, one’s outward appearance, or one’s true nature?
When Dorian first notices that the portrait has changed, there is a brief time when he is resolved to make the portrait his conscience and strive to redeem himself. After Sybil’s death, he abandons this notion. Is this a proportionate reaction? Why do you think Dorian reverses his position? How does 19th century culture play a role in this change?
I know that each of these questions is really two or three, as usual…but feel free to explore only one facet of each in your reading and pondering of Dorian! See you Thursday–