The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Dorian leads Basil to the top of the house. He is smiling with a strange pride at what he is about to reveal. He tells Basil that he is the one man who will know everything about him. Basil is confused. Dorian is acting very strangely, and the room they have entered is cobwebbed and creepy. Dorian tells Basil that he is about to see his soul just as he wished. As he flings off the cover of the portrait, Basil lets out a cry of horror at the state of his once most beautiful work. He can’t believe the monstrosity he sees, yet he knows that it is the very same portrait. Dorian stands observing his own image. He is chillingly calm.
The journey to the top of the house is the journey towards Dorian’s real image. As the sitter leads the artist into the room, the tables have turned – now the artist has no power at all. Dorian has "painted" this portrait. Art has reflected life and has shown the object of desire and inspiration to be the real creator, imposing on the artist a vision beyond their control.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Dorian reminds Basil of the wish he had made on seeing the portrait for the first time. Basil can’t believe what Dorian is insinuating. Surely, some scientific cause could be detected. Dorian asks Basil if he can see the ideal boy that he once worshipped. Basil is horrified. There is nothing of the same beauty – the face on the canvas is like a devil, or a corpse. Basil sinks into a chair and starts weeping, crying out to Dorian to pray for his soul to be saved. He says he also needs forgiveness, he was wrong to worship Dorian so. He begs them to pray together.
Dorian truly does want to know if Basil can see the innocent boy in the portrait. But Basil cannot, and faced with a portrait that truly mirrors life, which shows the changes in a soul as opposed to a surface at a brief moment in time, Basil is horrified. And he turns not to art but to religion for safety
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Dorian tells Basil it is too late for prayer, he doesn’t believe in the words. Basil scolds him. Feelings of hatred start to overwhelm Dorian. He hates Basil with a passion. He is possessed, as if the portrait itself is turning him against its maker. He spots a knife in the room and goes slowly to fetch it. Turning suddenly around, wielding the knife, Dorian rushes at Basil and stabs him in the neck, again and again, until Basil stops moving.
But Dorian has only surface things, and so religion means nothing to him. In Basil's horror Dorian can see the total loss of his innocence—he hates Basil because Basil knew him when he was innocent, and because in painting the portrait Basil started Dorian on the road away from innocence. Dorian is possessed by the portrait because he is a product of the portrait—and so the portrait attacks its creator.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
The sound of Basil’s blood is a horrible drip, drip, drip on the floor of the schoolroom. Dorian goes out, and listens. The house is quiet and dark. He goes back to the room and locks himself in. He marvels at how easily he has killed Basil, how calm the man looks seated in the chair slumped over as if in sleep. Dorian goes to the window and watches the street, feeling strangely calm. There is a policeman outside dealing with a vagabond woman.
Dorian’s control over life and death, with such a mask of calm, stands in extreme contrast to his initial terror at the idea of his own mortality. Even the physical signs of Basil’s destroyed body, the dripping on the floor, do not produce remorse or realization. Dorian has truly become a shell of a man.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
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Without looking back, Dorian leaves the room. He thinks the best way to succeed now is not to think about what has just happened. But, he has forgotten the lamp inside the room. Returning, he cannot help but look at the body, and is suddenly filled with new terror at its appearance, at its stillness and long white hands. He locks up the room and goes down to the library. He says to himself that since Basil was supposed to go to Paris that evening for six months, nobody would suspect anything for months.
Denial and confrontation jostle for Dorian’s attention. It seems not to be the idea of murder that scares him but the appearance of Basil and his symbolic white hands, standing for the purity and goodness with which the horrible portrait was crafted.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
It occurs to Dorian that he has plenty of time to dispose of Basil’s body. He fetches his servant Francis and asks to be woken early the next morning and if there had been any visitors. When Francis tells him about Basil’s visit, Dorian feigns innocence and says he’ll await news from Paris. With the servant gone, Dorian paces hurriedly, and swinging into action, fetches an address book and finds the address of a man named Alan Campbell.
You would think that the murder of the artist that has created so much of Dorian’s personality would sap some of the life out of him. But the opposite is true. The evil deed seems to fuel Dorian’s activities, and he never seems more alive than when he is creating a clever disguise and hiding calmly behind it.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon