The Picture of Dorian Gray : Book Club Discussion Questions

A reminder that our book club discussion questions contain spoilers.


While modelling for an artist, a youth is instructed that only the life of pleasure has value. His spiral into dissipation is reflected not on his body, which retains its beauty and vigor, but in the portrait.

City libraries has copies of this book in various formats.

Discussion Questions

Did the author, Oscar Wilde, see himself as Dorian, Basil or Wotton?*

How great is Wotton’s culpability in what happens to Dorian? Does he “spoil” him, or is Dorian’s moral failure an innate flaw which was only exposed by Wotton’s advice?

What role does homosexuality or homoeroticism play in the novel? Is all homosexual behavior damaging in the novel?

The novel strongly suggests that in Dorian’s social circle, his appearance acts as an alibi. The good are obviously, visibly, good. How does this ambiguity between appearance and nature play out with the other characters?

Why does Dorian kill Basil?  Why does Dorian stab the portrait?

How was it possible for Wilde to remain a closeted homosexual when publishing things like this? Where does the text provide him with social deniability?



*Wilde actually answered this. He once stated “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be – in other ages, perhaps.” What does this say about Wilde?