The novel begins in Basil Hallward's studio on a sunny summer’s day. Basil is with Henry who later meets Dorian and entrances him with his words, causing Dorian to become vain after he sees his portrait and how beautiful he is. After viewing his picture he becomes overwhelmed with grief because the portrait will always be younger than he is and hastily trades his soul to “be always young” (pg. 27). Not soon after Dorian finds himself engaged to Sibyl, a beautiful actress, only to scorn her and call it off after her dreadful performance. She commits suicide and Henry gives Dorian a book that influences him in such a way as to try and commit any sin imaginable. One night in a rage he murders Basil, but gets an old friend to clean it up. Later in the novel James Vane, Sibyls brother, almost kills Dorian in revenge but stops because he looks too young, only to be told by a prostitute that it really was him. James Vane dies while stalking Dorian and Dorian decides to start leading a life free of sin, so he stabs the painting to destroy it in order to feel free of his past life of sin. He is found the next day unrecognizable and old with a knife in his heart.
Oscar Wilde writes a complex story in a culmination of events in chronological order, though depending on which character the novel is following at the time, events may not unravel themselves as they happen. The Picture of Dorian Gray is written as a whole novel; no parts. The novel begins with a preface which gives insight into the book, and much opinion about art. With all of the death, the gruesomeness of the picture and the rotten opium hangout, the novel is given the form of a horror suspense story.
Point of view/ Perspective:
Wilde writes The Picture of Dorian Gray in a third person point of view, following Lord Henry, Dorian Gray, and Sibyl Vane, etc. The reader never knows who is narrating the story, just trusts blindly that the information they are being given is correct. The way information is given to the reader is very unbiased until they intercept the actions, feelings, and thoughts of the character made available. When the story follows a certain character the reader follows the development of their thoughts. Important ideas, such as Dorian’s idea to trade his soul for eternal youth and beauty, are done verbally. Most of Henry's important ideas came to pass through conversation and wittingly impressing his philosophies onto Dorian. Most of the important ideas that changed Dorian came from Henry.
The story mainly stays concentrated on following Dorian’s actions and thoughts, but does stray somewhat in order for the reader to have a fuller understanding of the situation at hand and to perhaps gain sympathies for the different characters. Wilde does an excellent job of allowing his characters to tell the story. What isn't told to the reader, he either fills them in through the thoughts of the characters or purposefully leaves...