The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Duchess of Monmouth Character Analysis

A clever and pretty member of Lord Henry’s social set. She is unusual amongst the women of the novel as one of the only ones able to impress Lord Henry and keep up equal banter with him. She is also enamored with Dorian and shows that marriage in this society is often just a show, revealing secret affections, something that Lord Henry seems to highly approve of.

The Duchess of Monmouth Quotes in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The The Picture of Dorian Gray quotes below are all either spoken by The Duchess of Monmouth or refer to The Duchess of Monmouth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray published in 2003.
Chapter 15 Quotes

“She is very clever, too clever for a woman. She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness. It is the feet of clay that make the gold of the image precious.”

Related Characters: Lord Henry Wotton (speaker), The Duchess of Monmouth
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

Dorian and Lord Henry have spent an evening with the Duchess of Monmouth, a smart, beautiful woman who adores Dorian. The next day, Lord Henry tells Dorian that her husband is incredibly boring, and remarks that the Duchess herself is "too clever for a woman." This passage highlights the disdainful view Lord Henry has of women (even the few women he likes). None of the various female characters play a significant role in the novel, and the narrative itself thus reflects Lord Henry's view that most women are unappealing and uninteresting. Furthermore, Lord Henry's comment that the Duchess is "too clever" and that she does not have the "charm of weakness" shows that he believes it is desirable for women to seem vulnerable and inferior. 

At the same time, it is possible to interpret his comment as applying not just to women but to people in general; if so, this has negative implications for Dorian. After all, Henry argues that it is charming for women to have "feet of clay," before saying that the Duchess's feet are more like porcelain, hardened by her experiences. Clay is often symbolically connected to human flesh, a solid foundation even for an attractive surface like gold, whereas the image of hardened, white porcelain brings to mind Dorian's pure exterior, beneath which lies the sinful experiences that have hardened his soul. 

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The Duchess of Monmouth Character Timeline in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The timeline below shows where the character The Duchess of Monmouth appears in The Picture of Dorian Gray. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
The Duchess is on Henry’s side; he makes her feel a lot better about her mistakes and... (full context)
Chapter 15
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
Women and Men Theme Icon
...to sit by Lord Henry. Henry talks about the evening they spent together with the Duchess of Monmouth, who is smitten with Dorian. She is an unusual woman, clever and pretty,... (full context)
Chapter 17
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
Women and Men Theme Icon
A week later, Dorian is entertaining the Duchess, her husband, and other elegant guests at his country house. Dorian, the Duchess, and Lord... (full context)
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
Women and Men Theme Icon
...the virtues of the English, on the meaning of love, the importance of reputation. The Duchess makes the point that women love with their ears, while men love with their eyes,... (full context)
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
Women and Men Theme Icon
Dorian goes to fetch some orchids for the Duchess to take home. When he is gone, Henry inquires about the Duchess’s flirting. She likes... (full context)
Chapter 18
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
...him behind a tree, but it is only the gardener with a note from the Duchess. (full context)
The Mortality of Beauty and Youth Theme Icon
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Art and the Imitation of Life Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Surfaces, Objects and Appearances Theme Icon
Influence Theme Icon
Women and Men Theme Icon
With Dorian gone, Henry asks the Duchess about her feelings for Dorian. She isn’t sure how she feels. They banter about it,... (full context)