The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The sight of James Vane tortures Dorian the next day. Every sound and sight seems to suggest his coming doom. He convinces himself that the sighting was just an illusion; there would have been some evidence of the trespass if it was real. But this begins to scare Dorian even more. The thought that his own mind could produce such a vision makes him feel mad and out of control.
As the novel reaches its climax, the terror of the portrait is reproduced in other images and surfaces. Dorian used to see himself everywhere. Now he sees Vane. Now he sees Vane. This brings a nightmarish quality to Henry’s earlier theory, that life is a series of repetitions, and art as an imitation of life is destined to repeat too perhaps.
Themes
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Three days after the sighting, Dorian manages to go outside. He has survived his doubts and fears and is surprisingly refreshed by the winter day and meets up with the Duchess and the Duchess’s brother, Sir Geoffrey, who has been hunting. Being outside amongst nature and company thrills Dorian. But as Geoffrey goes to shoot a hare, Dorian stops him, suddenly feeling unusual pity for the animal. Geoffrey shoots anyway, laughing at Dorian’s behavior, but then it is revealed that he did not shoot a hare but rather a man, who has been killed.
Dorian's concern about the hare's life shows a change in him. He's never cared about the life of anyone else until now. Perhaps his fear of his own death—which had been eliminated by his lack of aging—has reconnected him to the world. The lack of care shown by the other members of his society shows that his uncaring is not limited to him. The death of the man is strange… why would someone be hiding in the bushes?
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
Lord Henry suggests they all go home and avoid more of a scene. Dorian is obsessed that the incident is a bad omen. Henry assures him that there is nothing to be afraid of. Even if there were such things as omens, Dorian is too lucky to be affected by them. Dorian tries to explain that he is not lucky at all. His paranoia is at its height. He thinks he sees something waiting for him behind a tree, but it is only the gardener with a note from the Duchess.
Once again Henry advises everyone to avoid the appearance of a scandal. Henry, who is so focused on surfaces, cannot fathom that Dorian, who still has the perfect surface, could possibly have anything wrong or unlucky in his life. Henry's witty philosophy looks wholly inadequate now.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Henry praises the woman for her flirtatiousness, suggesting that her and Dorian’s shared love of danger makes them a good match. Dorian regrets that he cannot even feel passion for a woman anymore. He would rather escape on his own and forget everything. The Duchess comes out to greet them, asking about the strange incident and why Dorian had asked Geoffrey not to shoot. Lord Henry thinks a murder would have been much more interesting. At the mention of murder, Dorian feels suddenly faint and excuses himself.
Henry's ad Dutchess's insensitive monstrosity really come to the surface here, joking about murder. Of course, Dorian has actually committed murder, and the awfulness of having done so makes it hard for him to even hear the word. Dorian is not just a face – we are reminded that his body functions and weakens as any other and he is not the portrait he looks on the surface.
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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With Dorian gone, Henry asks the Duchess about her feelings for Dorian. She isn’t sure how she feels. They banter about it, both flirting with equal wit. Meanwhile, Dorian is battling with his demonic thoughts. He orders his servant to pack his things, and he sends a letter to Lord Henry telling him that he is going to visit his doctor in town.
Henry and the Duchess are of the same breed, they cover real feelings with artfulness of expression, leaving us unsure of who they are influenced by. But though Dorian is described in superficial terms like a picture or an object, it is he who hides deeper turmoil.
Themes
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
Women and Men Theme Icon
Just then, the head keeper of Dorian’s grounds comes to see him, to ask Dorian about the man who has been killed. It seems that the man was a stranger to the house, a sailor, and his body, rough-looking, is resting in one of the stables. At the description, Dorian starts. He orders the keeper to meet him at the stable and rushes to the farm to see the body. When the face of the body is revealed, Dorian sees for certain that the body is Jim Vane’s. Tears of relief come to his eyes.
Jim Vane's death frees Dorian. There is no longer any threat hanging over him. He is free to live as he pleases, to enjoy life with the abandon he always has. Jim was one of the last examples of a natural person to be found in the novel, and his death is therefore . Jim’s roughness and decency are signs of his depth where all other characters are motivated by shows and appearances, and his being mistaken for a hare and killed in a hunt also indicates his animal, natural character and how that kind of reality is shot down by Dorian’s superficial society.
Themes
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon