The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray


Oscar Wilde

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Themes and Colors
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
Women and Men Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Picture of Dorian Gray, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Influence Theme Icon

The power of one to affect another is a theme that pervades the novel. At first, Basil is influenced by his model Dorian. On a personal level, he is confused and changed by his romantic feelings, but Dorian’s influence is also more far-reaching, actually seeming to change Basil's ability for painting, and to change the painting itself in an almost supernatural way. Influence here describes an almost chemical change that one can assign to feelings and the perception of a painting. The same curse befalls Sybil Vane, when she is so influenced by Dorian, and by love, that she is transformed and can no longer act. In fact the whole course of events can be viewed as a series of domino-like influences. When the narrator recounts the series of bad relationships, where Dorian has led an innocent friend astray, the influences spread through the country, knowing no bounds.

Influence is also shown in the novel as a persuasive power. It is a less magical effect, of attractive ideas and styles worming their way into others’ vocabulary. Lord Henry’s philosophies and paradoxes have a hypnotic power on some people, and cause Dorian to seek knowledge and believe in these theories enough that he lives by them. Henry’s suggestion that the soul and the senses can mutually cure each other, for example, arises in Dorian’s mind and, out of context, misguides him into thinking that opium could soothe his soul.

Related Themes from Other Texts
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Influence ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Influence appears in each chapter of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Influence Quotes in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Below you will find the important quotes in The Picture of Dorian Gray related to the theme of Influence.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“He is all my art to me now.”

Related Characters: Basil Hallward (speaker), Dorian Gray
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul”

Related Characters: Lord Henry Wotton (speaker)
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“I never approve or disapprove of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life.”

Related Characters: Lord Henry Wotton (speaker)
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

“I am changed, and the mere touch of Sybil Vane’s hand makes me forget you and all your wrong, fascinating, poisonous, delightful theories.”

Related Characters: Dorian Gray (speaker), Lord Henry Wotton, Sybil Vane
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“So I have murdered Sybil Vane,” said Dorian Gray, half to himself, “murdered her as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife. Yet the roses are not less lovely for that.”

Related Characters: Dorian Gray (speaker), Sybil Vane
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

“The girl never really lived and so she never really died.”

Related Characters: Lord Henry Wotton (speaker), Sybil Vane
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

It was a poisonous book. The heavy odour of incense seemed to cling about its pages and trouble the brain.

Related Literary Devices:
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

“It is not in you Dorian to commit a murder. I am sorry if I hurt your vanity by saying so, but I assure you it is true. Crime belongs exclusively to the lower orders. I don’t blame them in the smallest degree. I should fancy that crime was to them what art is to us, simply a method of procuring extraordinary sensations.”

Related Characters: Lord Henry Wotton (speaker), Dorian Gray
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis: