The picture of Dorian Gray di Oscar Wilde



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Correzione del compito in classe svolto.

Write a paragraph about the language and structure of “The picture of Dorian Gray”
The language used bu Oscar Wilde is very rich and ornamental, like the embroideries that the protagonist, Dorian, loves so much. Many of the words used in the description (particularly of the sky) belong to jewellery.
The structure of the book is a symmetry: chapter I introduces the story, chapters II-X cover one month, chapter XI covers eighteen years and chapters XII-XX again few weeks, until Dorian’s death.
Explain briefly the meaning of the names of some characters (Dorian – Sibyl – Henry)
Dorian is a name that evokes the splendour of ancient Greece, whilst his surname, Gray, sounds like grey, the colour which symbolises the indecision between white (good) and black (bad).
Sibyl reminds us of Greek women who were prophets and told the truth, but her surname, Vane, sounds symbolic because she speaks “in vain”, she’s too weak to save Dorian, even if (as represented by the same contradiction in their names) they were destined to each other.
Henry, often named Harry, reminds us of the expression “old Harry”, that is a familiar way to name the devil.
Explain briefly what Sibyl and Gladys represent
In the two halves of the novel Sybil and Gladys represent the object of Dorian’s passing desire, but first of all they stand in opposition to Lord Henry: Sibyl simply by being Henry’s antithesis (she’s sincere and pure), Gladys by using his own weapons: being witty, experience, intelligence. Both women had their lives spoiled by Dorian.

Write a short summary of the novel (more or less 150 words)
In the 1860s, Basil Hallward portrayed Dorian Gray; thanks to the picture and Henry Wotton’s words, Dorian became concerned about his beauty and youth, and wished to stay always like he appeared on the canvas whilst the picture grew old.
His wish came true: Dorian noticed it when he found the picture had assumed a cruel expression after he’d behaved badly towards his lover, Sibyl.
Since then, Dorian led an uncontrolled pleasure-seeking life among scandals, sins and crimes (he caused many suicides, starting from Sibyl’s one, and killed Basil), but no sign of age or corruption marred his “marvellous visage”.
Throughout the whole novel he seems to be protected by an supernatural and infernal power. In spite of it, Dorian felt he’d spoiled his life and the lives of his friends and when he understood he couldn’t find a remedy for his sins anymore, he killed himself stabbing the picture, which regained its original shape whilst Dorian became old and hideous.

For each of the following quotations say:
-who is speaking to whom
-why or when he/she says it

1)”I know you will laugh at me, but I really can’t exhibit it: I have put too much of myself into it”
Basil is speaking to Henry, at the beginning of the book, to explain how much the portrait is important to him, confessing his great admiration of Dorian.

2)”But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June… If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! […] I would give my soul for that!”
Dorian is speaking to the portrait while he’s looking at it at the beginning of the book. This words are the unintentional wish which forfeits Dorian’s soul.

3)”The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died. To you at least she was always a dream, a phantom that flitted through Shakespeare’s plays”
Henry is speaking to Dorian about Sibyl Vane, immediately after the lad has known of the girl’s death. Henry says this words to help Dorian overcome his feeling of being guilty.

4)”You have been the one person in my life who has really influenced my art. Whatever I have done that is good, I owe to you. Ah! You don’t know what it cost me to tell you all that I have told you”
Basil is speaking to Dorian, in chapter IX. He’s making to Dorian the same confession he made to Henry in chapter I: he’s very fond of Dorian, and he’s afraid that his feelings might have come out in his painting.

5)”He is not the man I am looking for. […] The man whose life I want must be forty now. This one is little more than a boy”
James Vane is speaking to the woman of the opium den, in the second half of the book. He’s just met Dorian, whom he was looking for to take revenge of his sister’s death, but he’s been tricked by the young appearance of Dorian, who still looked like a boy because the picture was growing old and hideous at his place.



  1. giada

    una lettera in spagnolo per esame terza media

  2. rosy

    sto cercando degli appunti sul libro The picture of dorian gray