Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
- When Written: Some time between 1889, when the story was commissioned, and 1890
- Where Written: London
- When Published: It was initially published in a magazine called Lippincott’s Monthly in July of 1890.
- Literary Period: Aestheticism
- Genre: Aestheticism, Philosophical Fiction, Gothic Fiction
- Setting: London
- Climax: Dorian becomes so tormented by the portrait that he stabs it with a knife, but when the scene is discovered, it is Dorian himself who lies dead on the floor.
- Antagonist: Dorian and the other characters are surrounded by antagonistic influences, which seem to be a part of day to day life in the high society of London. These influences, fashion, classism, obsessions with aesthetics and reputation are embodied by Lord Henry Wotton, making the man and his ideas seem like the main antagonist of the book.
- Point of View: An omniscient narrator; this narrator guides us in the past tense between one place and another, able to show us the interior workings of the main characters
Dorian Gray Syndrome. Dorian Gray’s name still haunts popular culture but it also has a more serious legacy. Dorian Gray Syndrome is now a common term to describe a cluster of narcissistic qualities. It often refers to severe mental illness and can be diagnosed from symptoms reminiscent of Dorian’s in the novel.
The real Dorian? It has been suggested that the inspiration for Dorian Gray was a man called John Gray, who, though very handsome and a good poet, was dropped by Wilde in favor of his new love Lord Alfred Douglas. He apparently signed his love letters “Dorian”, after an ancient tribe called “The Dorians”.