1. This quote reveals Dorian’s acknowledgement of his double life. On the surface, he must maintain a facade of unadulterated youth and innocence. Internally, he is reeling from murdering Basil Hallward, as we see the after effects of what could be arguably called Dorian’s most nefarious act. Yet he keeps his ebullition from view and greets guests with his beauty. In a way, we can see the extent of Dorian’s corruption, as he performs the very act of the portrait himself. The twisted deed is kept away from view with his beautiful mask, and it is here that Dorian becomes sickeningly delighted with the ease that he can fool the world. He is not a complete villain without any realization of his own sins, yet the fact that he slides into a composure of innocence with a sense of “terrible pleasure” shows how far he has gone into corruption, and how futile it will be to redeem himself (Wilde 128).
2. Dorian is suffering under the guilt of his murder, yet he seeks release from it not by redemption, but by obliteration of memory. He wishes to “stamp the thing out, to crush it as one would crush the adder that had stung on” (135). He cannot find any other means of forgiving himself, so he decides to forget instead. The quote shows how keenly he feels the weight of Basil’s murder, and how he is too wicked and too far gone to forgive himself for his sins. The realization of his sins could offer him redemption, and yet Dorian further condemns himself by deciding to forget, rather than repent. Paradoxically, Dorian is trapped by his previous values despite having pursued new ones. Had he discarded the moral ideals he once shared with Basil entirely, he would’ve continued his life content; yet as he has kept the scraps of his morals, he has become a guilt-ridden victim. His weak justifications for his actions at the end of the quote show the same kind of hypocritical and selfish perspective that prevailed with Sybil Vane, and will eventually lead to his own ending.
3. Ugliness is reality. It does not hide Dorian’s deception, murder, and selfishness. Dorian relies on his beauty as a safety net to cover his sins. His unnatural aesthetics are like a drug, a forged utopia to where Dorian escapes. After Dorian kills Basil, his only desire is to forget his sin. He feels that being attracted to ugly things is the only method to do so. Therefore, Dorian goes to an opium den in an attempt to forget and escape the troubles of his murder. Here, art and beauty does not exist; rather there is “coarse brawl” and “crude violence of disordered life” (136). The quote also shows Dorian’s level of corruption; previously, he had done everything in his power to avoid the kind of sinful ugliness found in this chapter. He has now changed, and he finds respite within it, thus marking the kind of man he has become. His inner level of corruption has risen so high that he only truly finds relief within a background of darkness as despicable as his own.
4. There is a cost to...