The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray: Wilde's Ending and Its Moments of Ambiguity College

In Chapter 20 of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian is presented to us as a figure torn between reforming and alleviating himself from the sin and corruption he has perpetuated on others, and pursuing his exclamatory yearning for his “unsullied splendour of eternal youth” to return. Above all, the death of Dorian can only be interpreted by asserting his relationship to his portrait; the “fatal picture”, in which Wilde’s diction suggests it serves as a brutal reminder for his deteriorating soul and his true self, or as simply a symbol of a greater societal force on Dorian. Hence, only with this can one judge whether Dorian truly died by murder, suicide or by accident.

At the beginning of the chapter, Wilde uses pathetic fallacy to convey the “lovely night” which could coincide with Dorian’s inherent feeling of contentment and his ego-centricity and narcissism in regards to his relief that he is safe. This, is mirrored in previous parts of the novel, such as after James Vane’s death, where Wilde bathetically recalls how Dorian’s “eyes filled with tears, for he knew he was safe”. The pleasing, opulent aristocratic setting of the “lovely night” echoes the synaesthesia previously used in Lord Henry’s lavishing “apricot-coloured”...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1002 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7824 literature essays, 2195 sample college application essays, 333 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in