CliffsNotes on Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

CliffsNotes on Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

CliffsNotes on Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

CliffsNotes on Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in this series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

In CliffsNotes on The Picture of Dorian Gray, you explore Oscar Wilde's great works about narcissism, rife with symbolism and classic themes. Here, you meet Dorian Gray and discover his secret pact with the devil to stay young and handsome, and the subsequent destruction of his soul.

This study guide carefully walks you through Dorian's story by providing summaries and critical analyses of each chapter of the novel. You'll also explore the life and background of the author, Oscar Wilde, and gain insight into how he came to write this novel. Other features that help you study include

  • A list of characters
  • Glossaries to define new and unfamiliar terms
  • Critical essays about Oscar Wilde's views and life
  • A review section that tests your knowledge
  • A list of online resources for more study

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.


On August 30, 1889, Philadelphia publisher Joseph M. Stoddart, managing editor of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, invited a few guests to dinner at the Langham Hotel in London. Among them were two promising young writers: Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. Doyle recounts the events of what he calls “a golden evening” in his autobiographical Memories and Adventures (1924). Stoddart was considering an English publication of Lippincott’s with a British editor and British contributors. As a result of that evening, Doyle contributed to Lippincott’s his second Sherlock Holmes story, “The Sign of Four.” Wilde published his first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray in the magazine’s July 1890 issue.

Initial response to Wilde’s novel was negative if not abusive. The St. James Gazette of June 20, 1890, refers to the “garbage of the French Décadents” and the “prosy rigmaroles” of the story. The Daily Chronicle of June 30 calls it a “poisonous book.” The Scots Observer of July 5 asks, “Why go grubbing in muck-heaps?”

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