The Picture of Dorian Gray

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim. The critic is he who
can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in
beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.(p.6)
Art is something beautiful because it is the reflection of the artist in his or her perception of a view. Thus, art represents people in all its ugliness and and beauty. (Foreshadowing theme)

All art is at once surface
and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their
peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.(p.6)
Art is at the eye of the beholder, and thus mirrors the artist’s intention and complexity. Because of that, art is a vision into the reflection of the seers and the expressors.

All art is quite useless.
OSCAR WILDE(p.6)
This quote shows that no one is free from any pride and so even the author of this book can see that he expresses an art that he deems artless.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on
which he was lying, smoking, as usual, innumerable
cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-colored blossoms of the laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters who, in an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and
motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the black-crocketed spires of the early June hollyhocks, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive, and the dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ. (p.7)
The description is phenomenal. The colors and the way that all forms are suited into the air of the place is amazing. Wilde’s use of color and material sets such a calm and lovely image that proceeds and manifests itself onto the character.

“Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know,”(p.8)
Although paradoxical, the statement shows how people naturally set a mask to live through a life in which they can not live their true selves.

The only thing he considers of any importance is whether one believes it oneself. Now,
the value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed, the
probabilities are that the more insincere the man is, the more purely intellectual will the idea be, as in that case
it will not be coloured by either his wants, his desires, or his prejudices. (p.11)
This quote expresses Wilde’s view that ideas and truths are more valid when they come from no expression but rather the truth that it is beyond the person.

‘A dream of form in days of thought’–who is it who says that? I forget; but it
is what Dorian Gray has been to me. The merely visible presence of this lad–for he seems to me little more
than a lad, though he is really over twenty– his merely visible presence–ah! I wonder can you realize all that
that means? Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the
passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body–
how much that is! We in our madness have separated the two, and have invented a realism that is vulgar, an
ideality that is void. Harry! if you only knew what Dorian Gray is to me!(p.11)
Dorian Gray is the muse of the artist Basil Hallward. But in the same manner, the image of Dorian Grey reflects all that the artist admires himself.

“Dorian Gray is to me simply a motive in art. You might see nothing in him. I see everything in him.
He is never more present in my work than when no image of him is there. He is a suggestion, as I have said,
of a new manner. I find him in the curves of certain lines, in the loveliness and subtleties of certain colours. That is all.”(p.11)
Again, everything about Dorian is a reflection of the artist’s image. Thus, the muse of beauty runs through the artist like a vein of art.

“Because, without intending it, I have put into it some expression of all this curious artistic idolatry, of which,
of course, I have never cared to speak to him. He knows nothing about it. He shall never know anything about
it. But the world might guess it, and I will not bare my soul to their shallow prying eyes. My heart shall never
be put under their microscope. There is too much of myself in the thing, Harry–too much of myself!”(p.12)
The thing here is that although Dorian is the great idol of the artist’s beauty, Dorian does not know. Basil hides the truth from the seer and thus the truth in the painting is most likely to be hidden.

“Ah, my dear Basil, that is exactly why I can feel it. Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love:
it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies.” (p.`12)
There are so many truth which are not seen by one image and perception of a thing and thus again the view and reflection of an artist in never fully observed.

“He has a simple and a beautiful
nature. Your aunt was quite right in what she said of him. Don’t spoil him. Don’t try to influence him. Your
influence would be bad. The world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. Don’t take away from me
the one person who gives to my art whatever charm it possesses: my life as an artist depends on him. Mind,
Harry, I trust you.” (p.13)
He’ll be influenced. It foreshadows the spoil of Dorian Gray. Not only will that happen but the beauty and art in Dorian will fade away.

Yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candour of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity. One felt that he had kept himself unspotted from the world. No wonder Basil Hallward worshipped him.(p.14)
Dorian is such a perfect image and the best part about this is how the readers are given this perception that Dorian is such an innocent and beautiful person. Also, there is worship; the power of control and facade is something that usually makes an individual corrupt.

“Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn
with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are
borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly–that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one’s self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion–these are the two things that govern us.
This has romantic influence painted all over it. The consequence of one’s existence in another’s life is cleanly portrayed. There is not one display of self-created items because all is borrowed and taken from others. Whatever one may do, it is to his or her power to create something that can feed the soul: like a creation that can truthfully reflect the soul of the creator; an art.

“I believe that if one man were to live
out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to
every dream–I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the
maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal– to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal,
it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic
survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive
to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a
mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The
only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the
things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It
has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only,
that the great sins of the world take place also. You, Mr. Gray, you yourself, with your rose-red youth and
your rose-white boyhood, you have had passions that have made you afraid, thoughts that have filled you with terror, day-dreams and sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with shame–”
(p.15)
Regret and potential are two forms that are encaptured within every person. It is because of how the world around has developed that there is no longer a sight of the true reasons, acquisitions, and developments within people. People can do much of what they desire except that when they try doing something in their own will, it is the presence of differing views that fades the will. Thus, the greatest vice to people is adherence. Dorian Gray, who is in a similar position as everyone else, has potential and regret.

The few words that Basil’s friend had said to him–words spoken by chance, no doubt, and with
wilful paradox in them– had touched some secret chord that had never been touched before, but that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to curious pulses. (p.16)
The art and the reflection of the art are springing in simultaneous ways.

Music had stirred him like that. Music had troubled him many times. But music was not articulate. It was not
a new world, but rather another chaos, that it created in us. Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How
clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them!
They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?
Yes; there had been things in his boyhood that he had not understood. He understood them now. Life
suddenly became fiery-coloured to him. It seemed to him that he had been walking in fire. Why had he not
known it? (p.16)
In the same way that music can move a person, spring the new life of perspective, and distort the control of emotions, Dorian Grey had felt that at the realization that he would grow old. It is common to forget that as you go through life there are many transitions.

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as
nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”(p.16)
A circled medicine to what will later be shown.

The pulse of joy that beats
in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!(p.17)
Already there is such a detest to aging. as people get older, the passions escape out of the person. This only terrifies Dorian more of becoming old and losing the passion reflected on his face.

That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own
loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him. Yes, there would be a day when his face
would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.(p.19)
The main struggle for Dorian: he will grow old and no longer show the art that embodies his face.

So that was the story of Dorian Gray’s parentage. Crudely as it had been told to him, it had yet stirred him by its suggestion of a strange, almost modern romance. A beautiful woman risking everything for a mad passion. A few wild weeks of happiness cut short by a hideous, treacherous crime. Months of voiceless agony, and then a child born in pain. The mother snatched away by death, the boy left to solitude and the tyranny of an old and loveless man. Yes; it was an interesting background. It posed the lad, made him more perfect, as it were. Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic. Worlds had to be in travail, that the meanest flower might blow. . . . And how charming he had been at dinner the night before, as with startled eyes and lips parted in frightened pleasure he had sat opposite to him at the club, the red candleshades staining to a richer rose the wakening wonder of his face.(p.25)
Dorian Gray is being presented as a flower in bloom between a hoard of tragedy, and thus making the juxtaposition ever so artful. This presentation is giving a pitiful and beautiful incarnate of Dorian — an art. It must be remembered that at one point he will no longer be strikingly beautiful and simply be recognized as a man who had his good years.

There was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence. No other activity was like it. To project one’s soul into some gracious form, and let it tarry there for a moment; to hear one’s own intellectual views echoed back to one with all the added music of passion and youth; to convey one’s temperament into another as though it were a subtle fluid or a strange perfume: there was a real joy in that–perhaps the most satisfying joy left to us in an age so limited and vulgar as our own, anage grossly carnal in its pleasures, and grossly common in its aims…. He was a marvellous type, too, this lad, whom by so curious a chance he had met in Basil’s studio, or could be fashioned into a marvellous type, at any rate. Grace was his, and the white purity of boyhood, and beauty such as old Greek marbles kept for us. There was nothing that one could not do with him. He could be made a Titan or a toy. What a pity it was that such beauty was destined to fade!(p.25)
Influence is both regretful and pleasing. to know that one’s reflection sits within another person is both the expansion of one person and the destruction of another. The issue with Dorian is that he himself reflected something so beautiful that it could not last forever.

And Basil? From a psychological point of view, how interesting he was! The
new manner in art, the fresh mode of looking at life, suggested so strangely by the merely visible presence of one who was unconscious of it all; the silent spirit that dwelt in dim woodland, and walked unseen in open field, suddenly showing herself, Dryadlike and not afraid, because in his soul who sought for her there had been wakened that wonderful vision to which alone are wonderful things revealed; the mere shapes and patterns of things becoming, as it were, refined, and gaining a kind of symbolical value, as though they were themselves patterns of some other and more perfect form whose shadow they made real: how strange it all was! He remembered something like it in history. Was it not Plato, that artist in thought, who had first analyzed it? Was it not Buonarotti who had carved it in the coloured marbles of a sonnet-sequence? But in our own century it was strange. . . . Yes; he would try to be to Dorian Gray what, without knowing it, the lad was
to the painter who had fashioned the wonderful portrait. He would seek to dominate him–had already, indeed, half done so. He would make that wonderful spirit his own. There was something fascinating in this son of love and death.(p.26)
The artist wants to become the reflection of the work as the work reflects the artist. Now, the tunnel of creativity, the muse of connection between the two fields, is so beautiful that Basil wants to grasp and have it.

He played with the idea and grew wilful; tossed it into the air and transformed it; let it escape and recaptured
it; made it iridescent with fancy and winged it with paradox. The praise of folly, as he went on, soared into a philosophy, and philosophy herself became young, and catching the mad music of pleasure, wearing, one
might fancy, her wine-stained robe and wreath of ivy, danced like a Bacchante over the hills of life, and
mocked the slow Silenus for being sober. Facts fled before her like frightened forest things. Her white feet
trod the huge press at which wise Omar sits, till the seething grape-juice rose round her bare limbs in waves of purple bubbles, or crawled in red foam over the vat’s black, dripping, sloping sides. It was an extraordinary improvisation. He felt that the eyes of Dorian Gray were fixed on him, and the consciousness that amongst his audience there was one whose temperament he wished to fascinate seemed to give his wit keenness and to lend colour to his imagination. He was brilliant, fantastic, irresponsible. He charmed his listeners out of themselves, and they followed his pipe, laughing. Dorian Gray never took his gaze off him, but sat like one under a spell, smiles chasing each other over his lips and wonder growing grave in his darkening eyes.(p.29)
I really enjoy how the personification of philosophy is drunk and on top of all bliss and joy that it could be, because now reason and thought are convoluted. Philosophy herself is drunk just like Basil’s thoughts of Dorian. His art and muse is before him and yet he cannot form it the way he had done on the canvas. And now, Basil is struck in awe by the art which he had created.

Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect–simply a confession of failure. Faithfulness! I must analyse it some day. The passion for property is in it. There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up. (p.33)
Not everything can be faithful, just like Dorian Gray to his beauty.

When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.(p.34)
Love is an art that does not reveal itself because it is not at the truest expression of the artist.

“It was a distinction, my dear Dorian–a great distinction. Most people become bankrupt through having invested too heavily in the prose of life. To have ruined one’s self over poetry is an honour. (p.35)
As stated earlier, Only the senses can heal the soul, and thus the acquiring of remediation is praised.

“How horrid you are! She is all the great heroines of the world in one. She is more than an individual. You
laugh, but I tell you she has genius. I love her, and I must make her love me. You, who know all the secrets of life, tell me how to charm Sibyl Vane to love me! I want to make Romeo jealous. I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter and grow sad. I want a breath of our passion to stir their dust into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain. My God, Harry, how I worship her!” He was walking up and down the room as he spoke. Hectic spots of red burned on his cheeks. He was terribly excited.(p.36)
He truly sounds as if he loves her but she is only known to him as the actress. He is more infatuated by the art than by the person.

Good artists exist simply in what they make, and
consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most
unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.”(p.37)
This is the first disconnection from art and connecting to a human pulse. It is the ability of being human that is most fascinating in art that it becomes the poetry within the piece. Dorian may not agree.

To a large extent the lad was his own creation. He had made him premature. That was something. Ordinary people waited till life disclosed to them its secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. But now and then a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art, was indeed, in its way, a real work of art, life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetry has, or sculpture, or painting.(p.37)
Some people, like Dorian, had experienced a sight of life earlier than most people. Art, the most extraordinary being the innovative, is now on the face of Dorian. He is living art and a muse to different creations of artistic potential.

Soul and body, body and soul–how mysterious they were! There was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality. The senses could refine, and the intellect could degrade. Who could say where the fleshly impulse ceased, or the psychical impulse began? How shallow were the arbitrary definitions of
ordinary psychologists! And yet how difficult to decide between the claims of the various schools! Was the
soul a shadow seated in the house of sin? Or was the body really in the soul, as Giordano Bruno thought? The
separation of spirit from matter was a mystery, and the union of spirit with matter was a mystery also.(p.38)
Spirit and matter are separated. Thus, Dorian and his soul are separated as part of the psychology between what Dorian wants to be and what he is.

He began to wonder whether we could ever make psychology so absolute a science that each little spring of life would be revealed to us. As it was, we always misunderstood ourselves and rarely understood others. Experience was of no ethical value. It was merely the name men gave to their mistakes. Moralists had, as a rule, regarded it as a mode of warning, had claimed for it a certain ethical efficacy in the formation of character, had praised it as something that taught us what to follow and showed us what to avoid. But there
was no motive power in experience. It was as little of an active cause as conscience itself. All that it really
demonstrated was that our future would be the same as our past, and that the sin we had done once, and withloathing, we would do many times, and with joy.
(p.38)
People repeat their mistakes. It is of no warning that they can change if what they have in their mind is only the recollection of how sin once affected a person.

It was clear to him that the experimental method was the only method by which one could arrive at any
scientific analysis of the passions; and certainly Dorian Gray was a subject made to his hand, and seemed to
promise rich and fruitful results. His sudden mad love for Sibyl Vane was a psychological phenomenon of no
small interest. There was no doubt that curiosity had much to do with it, curiosity and the desire for new
experiences, yet it was not a simple, but rather a very complex passion. What there was in it of the purely
sensuous instinct of boyhood had been transformed by the workings of the imagination, changed into
something that seemed to the lad himself to be remote from sense, and was for that very reason all the more
dangerous. It was the passions about whose origin we deceived ourselves that tyrannized most strongly over
us. Our weakest motives were those of whose nature we were conscious. It often happened that when we
thought we were experimenting on others we were really experimenting on ourselves.(p.38)
Dorian is going into love with no warning and experience. It is foreshadowed that he will commit sin and continue to do so after. Even if he seems like an innocent falling into instant and pure fondness, it will all change, both mentally and physically.

He has preached me as a dogma; to-night he will announce me as a revelation. I feel it. And it is all his, his only, Prince Charming, my wonderful lover, my god of graces. But I am poor beside him. Poor? What does that matter? When poverty creeps in at the door, love flies in through the window. Our proverbs want rewriting. They were made in winter, and it is summer now; spring-time for me, I think, a very dance of blossoms in blue skies.(p,43)
Sibyl in her own self has fallen for the art that she displays; drama. She is allowing herself to go with Dorian although both are only fond of each other for the art they display.

“I wish I had, for as sure as there is a God in heaven, if he ever does you any wrong, I shall kill him.”
(p.44)
Foreshadowing revenge upon Dorian. He is going to hurt Sibyl.

In Sybil’s own room they parted. There was jealousy in the lad’s heart, and a fierce murderous hatred of the
stranger who, as it seemed to him, had come between them. Yet, when her arms were flung round his neck,
and her fingers strayed through his hair, he softened and kissed her with real affection. There were tears in his eyes as he went downstairs.(p.44)
He will keep a lasting grudge because now it’s not just an artful affection but rather a human gravity.

“I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent
into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never
interfere with what charming people do. If a personality fascinates me, whatever mode of expression that
personality selects is absolutely delightful to me.(p.46)
Life is so full of many things that is is best to neither reject or agree to something full of potential. it is best to simply go by consistency.

Lord Henry laughed. “The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves.
The basis of optimism is sheer terror. We think that we are generous because we credit our neighbour with the
possession of those virtues that are likely to be a benefit to us. We praise the banker that we may overdraw our account, and find good qualities in the highwayman in the hope that he may spare our pockets. I mean everything that I have said. I have the greatest contempt for optimism. As for a spoiled life, no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested. If you want to mar a nature, you have merely to reform it. As for marriage, of course that would be silly, but there are other and more interesting bonds between men and women. I will certainly encourage them. They have the charm of being fashionable. But here is Dorian himself. He will tell you more than I can.”(p.47)
Optimism is only an illusion brought upon by the fears one has for what can be accepted. Everything, even marriage, can be an illusion to one’s potential for self-greatness. Dorian, on the other hand, is caught in trying to make some art out of an artless relationship.

Basil, haven’t I, to take my love out of poetry and to find my wife in Shakespeare’s plays? Lips that Shakespeare taught to speak have whispered their secret in my ear. I have had the arms of Rosalind around me, and kissed Juliet on the mouth.” (p.47)
Again, Dorian is only looking art Sibyl’s fine art but not her as a human.

“To be good is to be in harmony with one’s self,” he replied, touching the thin stem of his glass with his pale, fine-pointed fingers. “Discord is to be forced to be in harmony with others. One’s own life–that is the
important thing. As for the lives of one’s neighbours, if one wishes to be a prig or a Puritan, one can flaunt
one’s moral views about them, but they are not one’s concern. Besides, individualism has really the higher
aim. Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.”(p.48)
Again, individualism plays a great role in defining the views and attitudes of the characters. It is evaluated that the accordance with age is not something that will be completely exemplified.

A strange sense of loss came over him. He felt that Dorian Gray would never again be to him all that he had been in the past. Life had come between them…. His eyes darkened, and the crowded flaring streets became blurred to his eyes. When the cab drew up at the theatre, it seemed to him that he had grown years older. (p.50)
Basil is now losing his art. That means that the art itself will also be lost.

To-night, for the first time, I became conscious that the Romeo was hideous, and old, and painted, that the moonlight in the orchard was false, that the scenery was vulgar, and that the words I had to speak were unreal, were not my words, were not what I wanted to say. You had brought me something higher, something of which all art is but a reflection. You had made me understand what love really is. My love! My love! Prince Charming! Prince of life! I have grown sick of shadows. You are more to me than all art can ever be. What have I to do with the puppets of a play? When I came on to-night, I could not understand how it was that everything had gone from me. I thought that I was going to be wonderful. I found that I could do nothing. Suddenly it dawned on my soul what it all meant. The knowledge was exquisite to me. I heard them hissing, and I smiled. What could they know of love such as ours? Take me away, Dorian–take me away with you, where we can be quite alone. I hate the stage. I might mimic a passion that I do not feel, but I cannot mimic one that burns me like fire. Oh, Dorian, Dorian, you understand now what it signifies? Even if I could do it, it would be profanation for me to play at being in love. You have made me see that.(p.53)
Sibyl finally shows her human side. This is a great spark of truth because it shows how the art is now artless; it can no longer compare to the truth of being.

“Yes,” he cried, “you have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don’t even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect. I loved you because you were marvellous, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away. You are shallow and stupid. My God! how mad I was to love you! What a fool I have been! You are nothing to me now. I will never see you again. I will never think of you. I will never mention your name. You don’t know what you were to me, once.
Why, once . . . Oh, I can’t bear to think of it! I wish I had never laid eyes upon you! You have spoiled the
romance of my life. How little you can know of love, if you say it mars your art! Without your art, you are
nothing. I would have made you famous, splendid, magnificent. The world would have worshipped you, and you would have borne my name. What are you now? A third-rate actress with a pretty face.”(p.53)
Dorian does not bode well with the loss of art. He does not truly love for the being, he does not fully love the art either. He loves the replication of an art, and is thus less artless himself. The romance he proclaims is spoiled is because he himself has been spoiled with the belief that he can love an art that reflected what he wanted to be, rather than what he was.

Yes, he remembered it perfectly. He had uttered
a mad wish that he himself might remain young, and the portrait grow old; that his own beauty might be
untarnished, and the face on the canvas bear the burden of his passions and his sins; that the painted image might be seared with the lines of suffering and thought, and that he might keep all the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just conscious boyhood. Surely his wish had not been fulfilled? Such things were
impossible. It seemed monstrous even to think of them. And, yet, there was the picture before him, with the touch of cruelty in the mouth.(p.55)
The main plot point of the story is that wished to become beautiful and his age became reflected upon the art, and not the muse. He does not want to age and so his portrait reflects it. Now, it was already mirroring the cruelty in his soul.

Cruelty! Had he been cruel? It was the girl’s fault, not his. He had dreamed of her as a great artist, had given
his love to her because he had thought her great. Then she had disappointed him. She had been shallow and
unworthy. And, yet, a feeling of infinite regret came over him, as he thought of her lying at his feet sobbing
like a little child. He remembered with what callousness he had watched her. Why had he been made like that? Why had such a soul been given to him? But he had suffered also. During the three terrible hours that the play had lasted, he had lived centuries of pain, aeon upon aeon of torture. His life was well worth hers. She
had marred him for a moment, if he had wounded her for an age. Besides, women were better suited to bear
sorrow than men. They lived on their emotions. They only thought of their emotions. When they took lovers,
it was merely to have some one with whom they could have scenes. Lord Henry had told him that, and Lord
Henry knew what women were. Why should he trouble about Sibyl Vane? She was nothing to him now.(p.55)
He has been influenced too much. He does not believe that he is at fault for breaking away from Sibyl because he believes she broke the chain by breaking her art.

Yet it was watching him, with its beautiful marred face and its cruel smile. Its bright hair gleamed in the early
sunlight. Its blue eyes met his own. A sense of infinite pity, not for himself, but for the painted image of
himself, came over him. It had altered already, and would alter more. Its gold would wither into grey. Its red and white roses would die. For every sin that he committed, a stain would fleck and wreck its fairness. But he would not sin. The picture, changed or unchanged, would be to him the visible emblem of conscience. He would resist temptation. He would not see Lord Henry any more–would not, at any rate, listen to those subtle poisonous theories that in Basil Hallward’s garden had first stirred within him the passion for impossible things. He would go back to Sibyl Vane, make her amends, marry her, try to love her again. Yes, it was his duty to do so. She must have suffered more than he had. Poor child! He had been selfish and cruel to her. The fascination that she had exercised over him would return. They would be happy together. His life with her would be beautiful and pure.
(p.55)
He wants to fix his sin and escape all influence. There is no more commitment to the art if he is to become in his soul the way that the picture is displaying. He wanted to be beautiful in the painting as he was in real life.

One thing, however, he felt that it had done for him. It had made him conscious how unjust, how cruel, he had
been to Sibyl Vane. It was not too late to make reparation for that. She could still be his wife. His unreal and selfish love would yield to some higher influence, would be transformed into some nobler passion, and the portrait that Basil Hallward had painted of him would be a guide to him through life, would be to him what holiness is to some, and conscience to others, and the fear of God to us all. There were opiates for remorse, drugs that could lull the moral sense to sleep. But here was a visible symbol of the degradation of sin. Here was an ever-present sign of the ruin men brought upon their souls.(p.57)
Although he wants to fix one sin, he wants to take opiates to relieve his remorse and thus destroy his image even further.

“Dorian,” he said, “my letter–don’t be frightened–was to tell you that Sibyl Vane is dead.”(p.59)
He cannot fix what he has done.

For a moment, he thought of praying that the horrible sympathy that existed between him and the picture
might cease. It had changed in answer to a prayer; perhaps in answer to a prayer it might remain unchanged. And yet, who, that knew anything about life, would surrender the chance of remaining always young, however fantastic that chance might be, or with what fateful consequences it might be fraught? Besides, was it really under his control? Had it indeed been prayer that had produced the substitution? Might there not be some curious scientific reason for it all? If thought could exercise its influence upon a living organism, might not thought exercise an influence upon dead and inorganic things? Nay, without thought or conscious desire, might not things external to ourselves vibrate in unison with our moods and passions, atom calling to atom in secret love or strange affinity? But the reason was of no importance. He would never again tempt by a prayer any terrible power. If the picture was to alter, it was to alter. That was all. Why inquire too closely into it?(p.62)
He no longer wants to fix away his sins. If he is to remain young and beautiful then he shall continue being art while the portrait take his consequences. It will all lead to him becoming a horribly person and his ticket-way through all his troubles will be his image.

For there would be a real pleasure in watching it. He would be able to follow his mind into its secret places.
This portrait would be to him the most magical of mirrors. As it had revealed to him his own body, so it
would reveal to him his own soul. And when winter came upon it, he would still be standing where spring
trembles on the verge of summer. When the blood crept from its face, and left behind a pallid mask of chalk with leaden eyes, he would keep the glamour of boyhood. Not one blossom of his loveliness would ever fade. Not one pulse of his life would ever weaken. Like the gods of the Greeks, he would be strong, and fleet, and joyous. What did it matter what happened to the coloured image on the canvas? He would be safe. That was everything.(p.63)
He can now unveil his real humanity. This really foreshadows one of Oscar Wilde’s quotes, ” Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth.” He is the being with the art but is not it.

“What has the actual lapse of time got to do with it? It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of
an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t
want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”(p.63)
Hedonistic attitudes do not combine well with the ambition to sin. It is foreshadowing the expectations of Dorian.

Even now I cannot help feeling that it is a mistake to think that the passion one feels in creation is ever really shown in the work one creates. Art is always more abstract than we fancy. Form and colour tell us of form and colour–that is all. It often seems to me that art conceals the artist far more completely than it ever reveals him.(p.67)
Art is simply what it shows, but what is expressed is the further reveal of form and color, yet people make it meaningful. It is the people who form the semantics to what is perceived.

Now it was to hide something that had a corruption of its own, worse than the corruption of death itself– something that would breed horrors and yet would never die. What the worm was to the corpse, his sins would be to the painted image on the canvas. They would mar its beauty and eat away its grace. They would defile it and make it shameful. And yet the thing would still live on. It would be always alive.(p.69)
Since Dorian Gray has accepted to allow his sins to manifest him, his reflection on the canvas will wither all of his consequences; forever taking his punishment while he lives in the image of an art.

Compared to what he saw in it of censure or rebuke, how shallow Basil’s reproaches about Sibyl Vane had been!– how shallow, and of what little account! His own soul was looking out at him from the canvas and calling him to judgement. A look of pain came across him, and he flung the rich pall over the picture.(p.69)
He really can’t stand to see all that he is becoming, yet he still commits further degradation because he looks beautiful.

Why should he watch the hideous corruption of his soul? He kept his youth– that was enough. And, besides, might not his nature grow finer, after all? There was no reason that the future should be so full of shame. Some love might come across his life, and purify him, and shield him from those sins that seemed to be already stirring in spirit and in flesh– those curious unpictured sins whose very mystery lent them their subtlety and their charm. Perhaps, some day,
the cruel look would have passed away from the scarlet sensitive mouth, and he might show to the world Basil
Hallward’s masterpiece.(p.71)
He thinks that he can find redemption later in life but doesn’t try presently to fix anything about his life. He’s not going to get redemption.

It was a novel without a plot and with only one character, being, indeed, simply a psychological study of a certain young Parisian who spent his life trying to realize in the nineteenth century all the passions and modes of thought that belonged to every century except his own, and to sum up, as it were, in himself the various moods through which the world-spirit had ever passed, loving for their mere artificiality those renunciations that men have unwisely called virtue, as much as those natural rebellions that wise men still call sin.(p.72)
It’s a parallel structure to Dorian, having a psychological dilemma within himself and having it reflected upon his picture. He values virtues like an art and sees that all his little rebellions are nothing more than the art of being himself.

The very sharpness of the contrast used to quicken his sense of pleasure. He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul. He would examine with minute care, and sometimes with a monstrous and terrible delight, the hideous lines that seared the wrinkling forehead or crawled around the heavy sensual mouth, wondering sometimes which were the more horrible, the signs of sin or the signs of age. He would place his white hands beside the coarse bloated hands of the picture, and smile. He mocked the
misshapen body and the failing limbs.(p.74)
He no longer has empathy for his soul. As destroyed and vile as it is, he mocks it because he will always look beautiful. It is about the mask he can guise in that no one can see that he is in fact a corrupt creature.

And, certainly, to him life itself was the first, the greatest, of the arts, and for it all the other arts seemed to be but a preparation.(p.74)
He is living art, and he will continue to express it in any way that gives him the greatest pleasure. He will consume himself in all the wrongs he commits.

Nothing seems to us changed. Out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we had known. We have to resume it where we had left off, and there steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits, or a wild longing, it may be, that our eyelids might open some morning upon a world that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for our pleasure, a world in which things would have fresh shapes and colours, and be changed, or have other secrets, a world in which the past would have little or no place, or survive, at any rate, in no conscious form of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness and the memories of pleasure their pain.(p.75)
It is a mixture of romantic dream and nightmare. Everything is beautiful and and the world itself can show the life that one has, except it is all full of bitter joys and similar patterns that there is only way to experience some anticipation for the passing of time.

For these treasures, and everything that he collected in his lovely house, were to be to him means of
forgetfulness, modes by which he could escape, for a season, from the fear that seemed to him at times to be almost too great to be borne. Upon the walls of the lonely locked room where he had spent so much of his
boyhood, he had hung with his own hands the terrible portrait whose changing features showed him the real
degradation of his life, and in front of it had draped the purple-and-gold pall as a curtain.(p.79)
He tried to escape from all his sins by hiding all his truths. His picture will be seen one day.

His extraordinary absences became notorious, and, when he used to reappear again in society, men would whisper to each other in corners, or pass him with a sneer, or look at him with cold searching eyes, as though they were determined to discover his secret.(p.79)
Dorian is getting a bad reputation, and mot likely it is because he is continually committing sin.

He used to wonder at the shallow psychology of those who conceive the ego in man as a thing simple, permanent, reliable, and of one essence. To him, man was a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex multiform creature that bore within itself strange legacies of thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the monstrous maladies of the dead. He loved to stroll through the gaunt cold picture-gallery of his country house and look at the various portraits of those whose blood flowed in his veins.(p.80)
He no longer connects himself to humanity, only that it runs in his veins. This transition makes him lose the art that he once was because he is no longer the being that is in himself something borne of creation but rather one who is manufactured out of consistency.

There was a horrible fascination in them all. He saw them at night, and they troubled his imagination in the
day. The Renaissance knew of strange manners of poisoning– poisoning by a helmet and a lighted torch, by an embroidered glove and a jewelled fan, by a gilded pomander and by an amber chain. Dorian Gray had been poisoned by a book. There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful.(p.81)
Dorian’s antics are being further conceptualized; he is resorting to evil doings to experience his art of life, and through literature he plans to represent what influences him.

He turned round. “What I have to say is this,” he cried. “You must give me some answer to these horrible
charges that are made against you. If you tell me that they are absolutely untrue from beginning to end, I shall believe you. Deny them, Dorian, deny them! Can’t you see what I am going through? My God! don’t tell me
that you are bad, and corrupt, and shameful.”(p.85)
Basil is getting to Dorian. His truth will come out.

An exclamation of horror broke from the painter’s lips as he saw in the dim light the hideous face on the
canvas grinning at him. There was something in its expression that filled him with disgust and loathing. Good heavens! it was Dorian Gray’s own face that he was looking at! The horror, whatever it was, had not yet
entirely spoiled that marvellous beauty. There was still some gold in the thinning hair and some scarlet on the
sensual mouth. The sodden eyes had kept something of the loveliness of their blue, the noble curves had not
yet completely passed away from chiselled nostrils and from plastic throat. Yes, it was Dorian himself. But
who had done it? He seemed to recognize his own brushwork, and the frame was his own design. The idea
was monstrous, yet he felt afraid. He seized the lighted candle, and held it to the picture. In the left-hand
corner was his own name, traced in long letters of bright vermilion.(p.86)
The truth is exposed. It is understood by the horror to an aging painting but to see the true soul of Dorian is horrendous. Basil had transformed a monster, and Dorian was representing all the influence and creation that he had acquired. It was no longer an art.

It was a knife that he had brought up, some days before, to cut a piece of cord, and had forgotten to take away with him. He moved slowly towards it, passing Hallward as he did so. As soon as he got behind him, he seized it and turned round. Hallward stirred in his chair as if he was going to rise. He rushed at him and dug the knife into the great vein that is behind the ear, crushing the man’s head down on the table and stabbing again and again.(p.88)
Dorian kills Basil. The art, the artist, the muse of creation and beauty is gone. There is no way of redeeming this sin.

As soon as Campbell had left, he went upstairs. There was a horrible smell of nitric acid in the room. But the
thing that had been sitting at the table was gone.(p.96)
He made sure to fully rid the body of Basil.

As he drove back to his own house, he was conscious
that the sense of terror he thought he had strangled had come back to him. Lord Henry’s casual questioning
had made him lose his nerves for the moment, and he wanted his nerve still. Things that were dangerous had
to be destroyed. He winced. He hated the idea of even touching them.(p.101)
Dorian is losing his calm. The composure, attitudes, and soul still remain present. He cannot hide his true soul when he himself is only an image.

“To cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul.” Yes, that was the secret. He had often tried it, and would try it again now. There were opium dens where one could buy oblivion, dens of horror where the memory of old sins could be destroyed by the madness of sins that were new.(p.102)
It comes back. He does resort to further debauchery by producing new ones and so his only cure is his own destruction. Maybe his cure is to destroy himself out of what he made of himself.

He knew in what strange heavens they were suffering, and what dull hells were teaching them the secret of some new joy. They were better off than he was. He was prisoned in thought. Memory, like a horrible malady, was eating his soul away. From time to time he seemed to see the eyes of Basil Hallward looking at him. Yet he felt he could not stay. The presence of Adrian Singleton troubled him. He wanted to be where no one would know who he was. He wanted to escape from himself.(p.104)
In sin and all polarity of who he reflects, he finds himself by losing himself with the things that he does not represent.

There are moments, psychologists tell us, when the passion for sin, or for what the world calls sin, so
dominates a nature that every fibre of the body, as every cell of the brain, seems to be instinct with fearful
impulses. Men and women at such moments lose the freedom of their will. They move to their terrible end as
automatons move. Choice is taken from them, and conscience is either killed, or, if it lives at all, lives but to
give rebellion its fascination and disobedience its charm. For all sins, as theologians weary not of reminding us, are sins of disobedience. When that high spirit, that morning star of evil, fell from heaven, it was as a rebel that he fell.(p.105)
Dorian blames instinct for his lack of control. Although his addiction is an issue, he finds that by killing who he is he is diminishing himself to become what he wants to be: the image.

“You wrecked the life of Sibyl Vane,” was the answer, “and Sibyl Vane was my sister. She killed herself. I
know it. Her death is at your door. I swore I would kill you in return. For years I have sought you. I had no
clue, no trace. The two people who could have described you were dead. I knew nothing of you but the pet name she used to call you. I heard it to-night by chance. Make your peace with God, for to-night you are
going to die.”(p.106)
The vengeful man is back. He’s going to kill Dorian.

“Strike me dumb if it ain’t so. He is the worst one that comes here. They say he has sold himself to the devil
for a pretty face. It’s nigh on eighteen years since I met him. He hasn’t changed much since then. I have,
though,” she added, with a sickly leer.(p.107)
He didn’t kill Dorian because he thought he was too young to be as old as he should. Now, the man is burning with desire to kill Dorian.

He went to his room and dressed. There was a wild recklessness of gaiety in his manner as he sat at table, but now and then a thrill of terror ran through him when he remembered that, pressed against the window of the conservatory, like a white handkerchief, he had seen the face of James Vane watching him.(p.112)
His mind and thoughts are getting to him. He won’t be able to escape all his sins later on.

And yet if it had been merely an illusion, how terrible it was to think that conscience could raise such fearful
phantoms, and give them visible form, and make them move before one! What sort of life would his be if, day
and night, shadows of his crime were to peer at him from silent corners, to mock him from secret places, to
whisper in his ear as he sat at the feast, to wake him with icy fingers as he lay asleep! As the thought crept
through his brain, he grew pale with terror, and the air seemed to him to have become suddenly colder. Oh! in
what a wild hour of madness he had killed his friend! How ghastly the mere memory of the scene! He saw it
all again. Each hideous detail came back to him with added horror. Out of the black cave of time, terrible and swathed in scarlet, rose the image of his sin.(p.113)
Now he can fully see into his soul. It is creeping at him like the designs in the portrait. If he is to remain beautiful forever then he must reflect the ugliness in his soul.

As for omens, there is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that. Besides, what on earth could happen to you, Dorian? You have everything in the world that a man can want. There is no one who would not be delighted to change places with you.(p.114)
Nobody can see his true self. That is why he goes through most sins undamaged by others.

“I wish I could love,” cried Dorian Gray with a deep note of pathos in his voice. “But I seem to have lost the
passion and forgotten the desire. I am too much concentrated on myself. My own personality has become a burden to me. I want to escape, to go away, to forget. It was silly of me to come down here at all. I think I shall send a wire to Harvey to have the yacht got ready. On a yacht one is safe.”(p.115)
Again, he wants to escape but as long as that portrait stands then all the things within him will be ugly and horrendous and simply haunting.

Upstairs, in his own room, Dorian Gray was lying on a sofa, with terror in every tingling fibre of his body.
Life had suddenly become too hideous a burden for him to bear. The dreadful death of the unlucky beater,
shot in the thicket like a wild animal, had seemed to him to pre-figure death for himself also. He had nearly
swooned at what Lord Henry had said in a chance mood of cynical jesting.(p.117)
He is afraid that death is coming for him, and so he is becoming more anxious over every little thing.

When the farm-servant had done so, he stepped forward. A cry of joy broke from his lips. The man who had been shot in the thicket was James Vane.
He stood there for some minutes looking at the dead body. As he rode home, his eyes were full of tears, for he knew he was safe.(p.118)
He still cries because he will live. For someone who is incredibly debauched and destructive of his own self, he holds a lot of sentiment when there is no one else endangering him.

“I forget,” said Dorian. “I suppose I did. But I never really liked it. I am sorry I sat for it. The memory of the
thing is hateful to me. Why do you talk of it? It used to remind me of those curious lines in some play–Hamlet, I think–how do they run?– “Like the painting of a sorrow, A face without a heart.”(p.121)
The sorrow is reflected by Basil’s loss of the art. the image without a heart is Dorian.

The elder man lay back and looked at him with half-closed eyes. “By the way, Dorian,” he said after a pause,
“‘what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose–how does the quotation run?– his own soul’?”(p.121)
There is nothing that can satisfy the soul of Dorian. He destroyed his senses and so he cannot remediate his sould, even if he is the most beautiful being.

“Don’t, Harry. The soul is a terrible reality. It can be bought, and sold, and bartered away. It can be poisoned, or made perfect. There is a soul in each one of us. I know it.”(p.121)
There is his denial of loss. It’s significant how he believes that a soul can easily be taken or formed like a line in a painting.

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young. I am amazed sometimes at my own sincerity. Ah, Dorian, how happy you are! What an exquisite life you have had! You have drunk deeply of everything. You have crushed the grapes against your palate. Nothing has been hidden from you. And it has all been to you no more than the sound of music. It has not marred you. You are still the same.”
“I am not the same, Harry.”(p.122)
The true tragedy here is that Dorian has lived to be youthful in image for so long except that now he still reminisces in a time where everything was lively — the conflict of age. Dorian is now experiencing that he is losing his youth because he has lost it in his soul.

“The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history.” The phrases came back to his memory, and he repeated them over and over to himself. Then he loathed his own beauty, and flinging the mirror on the floor, crushed it into silver splinters beneath his heel. It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed for. But for those two
things, his life might have been free from stain. His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a
mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts.
Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him.(p.124)
He now acknowledges that it was his own desire for beauty and youth and constant time that he didn’t anticipate his time of art to diminish. It was his own actions in a time of fire that had destroyed him, and now he was regretting all his wasted potential on the experience of being worn.

It was the living death of his own soul that troubled him. Basil had painted the portrait that had marred his
life. He could not forgive him that. It was the portrait that had done everything. Basil had said things to him
that were unbearable, and that he had yet borne with patience. The murder had been simply the madness of a moment. As for Alan Campbell, his suicide had been his own act. He had chosen to do it. It was nothing to
him.(p.124)
He is going insane. He is blaming everyone else for their own demise. He does not want to believe that he put all those horrors upon himself.

A cry of pain and indignation broke from him. He could see no change, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome–more loathsome, if possible, than before–and the scarlet dew that spotted the hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilled. Then he trembled. Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or the desire for a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted, with his mocking laugh? Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these? And why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have crept like a horrible disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped–blood even on the hand that had not held the knife.(p.124)
The image is in its most unbearing form. Dorian cannot believe his transformation. He was everything that was vile and the image was reflectant upon his soul.

Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was monstrous. Besides, even if he did confess, who would believe him? There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had been below-stairs. The world would simply say that he was mad. They would shut him up if he persisted in his story. . . . Yet it was his duty to confess, to suffer public shame, and to make public atonement. There was a God who called upon men to tell their sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing that he could do would cleanse him till he had told his own sin. His sin? He shrugged his shoulders. The death of Basil Hallward seemed very little to him. He was thinking of Hetty Merton. For it was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking at. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in his renunciation than that? There had been something more. At least he thought so. But who could tell? . . . No. There had been nothing more. Through vanity he had spared her. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity’s sake he had tried the denial of self. He recognized that now.(p.125)
No one would believe his story. And now he could not lie to himself that the image was not complete. It mirrored him entirely, and there is a madness growing greater and greater within him.

There was only one bit of evidence left against him. The picture itself– that was evidence. He
would destroy it. Why had he kept it so long? Once it had given him pleasure to watch it changing and
growing old. Of late he had felt no such pleasure. It had kept him awake at night. When he had been away, he
had been filled with terror lest other eyes should look upon it. It had brought melancholy across his passions.
Its mere memory had marred many moments of joy. It had been like conscience to him. Yes, it had been
conscience. He would destroy it.(p.125)
There was only one thing to show who he truly is: the painting. If it is to reflect him then he is to destroy it and rid all the things that have been plaguing him and all the things that he created upon himself.

As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s
work, and all that that meant. It would kill the past, and when that was dead, he would be free. It would kill
this monstrous soul-life, and without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace. He seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it.(p.125)
He would destroy all of who he was, and return to his true state, or rather, the state he wanted to be. He wanted to be at peace again.

There was a cry heard, and a crash. The cry was so horrible in its agony that the frightened servants woke and crept out of their rooms.(p.125)
He killed himself in killing the painting.

When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen
him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.(p.125)
His truth was revealed in the very end. He had broken from the sin by destroying it, himself.

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