'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes

Oscar Wilde's Famous (and Controversial) Novel

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Lombardi, Esther. "'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes." ThoughtCo, Oct. 14, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-quotes-741055. Lombardi, Esther. (2016, October 14). 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-quotes-741055 Lombardi, Esther. "'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-quotes-741055 (accessed September 24, 2017).
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray. W.W. Norton & Company

The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde's only known novel. The work first appeared in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890, and it was revised and published as a novel the following year. The work was considered scandalous and immoral when it first appeared, but it was really a way for Wilde to write about his philosophy of art.

Here are a few quotes from The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Chapter 1 Quotes

  • "But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 1
     
  • "The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 1
     
  • "The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 1
     
  • "I knew that I had come face to face with someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my whole soul, my very art itself."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 1
     
  • "An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 1
     
  • "Some day you will look at your friend, and he will seem to you to be a little out of drawing, or you won't like his tone of colour, or something."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 1

Chapter 2 Quotes

  • "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."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 2
     
  • "You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know."
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 2
     
  • "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June... If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that-for that-I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!"
    - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 2​

    Chapter 3 Quotes

    • "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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 3
       
    • "Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 3​

    Chapter 4 Quotes

    • "My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mid, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 4
       
    • "You know how a voice can stir one. Your voice and the voice of Sibyl Vane are two things that I shall never forget."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 4
       
    • "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!"
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 4
       
    • "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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 4
    • Chapter 5 Quotes

    • "Thin-lipped Wisdom spoke at her from the worn chair, hinted at prudence, quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes the name of common sense. She did not listen. She was free in her prison of passion. Her prince, Prince Charming, was with her. She had called on Memory to remake him. She had sent her soul to search for him, and it had brought him back. His kiss burned again upon her mouth. Her eyelids were warm with his breath."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 5
       
    • "Oh! How I shall play it! Fancy, Jim, to be in love and play Juliet! To have him sitting there! To play for his delight I am afraid I may frighten the company, frighten or enthrall them. To be in love is to surpass oneself."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 5
       
    • "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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 5

    Chapter 6 Quotes

    • "I hope that Dorian Gray will make this woman his wife, passionately adore her for six months, and then suddenly become fascinated by someone else. He would be a wonderful study."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 6
       
    • "I love Sibyl Vane. I want to place her on a pedestal of gold, and to see the world worship the woman who is mine. What is marriage? An irrevocable vow. You mock at it for that. Ah! Don't mock. It is an irrevocable vow that I want to take."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 6
       

    Study Guide

    Here are more quotes from The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

    • "She spiritualizes them, and one feels that they are of the same flesh and blood as one's self."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 7
       
    • "If this girl can give a soul to those who have lived without one, if she can create the sense of beauty in people whose lives have been sordid and ugly, if she can strip them of their selfishness and lend them tears for sorrows that are not their own, she is worthy of all your adoration, worthy of the adoration of the world. This marriage is quite right. I did not think so at first, but I admit it now. The gods made Sibyl Vane for you. Without her you are incomplete."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 7
       
    • "It is not good for one's morals to see bad acting. Besides, I don't suppose you will want your wife to act. So what does it matter if she plays Juliet like a wooden doll? She is very lovely, and if she knows as little about life as she does about acting, she will be a delightful experience."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 7
       
    • "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 realised 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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 7
       
    • "The quivering, ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth as clearly as if he had been looking into a mirror after he had done some dreadful thing."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 7
       
    • "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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 8
       
    • "I know what conscience is, to begin with. It is not what you told me it was. It is the divinest thing in us. Don't sneer at it, Harry, any more-at least not before me. I want to be good. I can't bear the idea of my soul being hideous."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 8
       
    • "But you must think of that lonely death in the tawdry dressing-room simply as a strange lurid fragment from some Jacobean tragedy, as a wonderful scene from Webster, or Ford, or Cyril Tourneur. The girl ever really lived, and so she has never really died."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 8
       
    • "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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 8
       
    • "You look exactly the same wonderful boy who, day after day, used to come down to my studio to sit for his picture. But you were simple, natural, and affectionate then. You were the most unspoiled creature in the whole world. Now, I don't know what had come over you. You talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you. It is all Harry's influence, I see that."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 9
       
    • "Yes, there was to be, as Lord Henry had prophesied, a new Hedonism that was to recreate life, and to save from that harsh, uncomely puritanism that is having, in our own day, its curious revival."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 11
       
    • "There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realise his conception of the beautiful."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 11
       
    • "I keep a diary of my life from day to day, and it never leaves the room in which it is written. I shall show it to you if you come with me."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 12
       
    • "What is it that one was taught to say in one's boyhood? 'Lead us not into temptation. Forgive us our sins. Wash away our iniquities.' Let us say that together. The prayer of your pride has bee answered. The prayer of your repentance will be answered also. I worshipped you too much. I am punished for it. You worshipped yourself too much. We are both punished."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 13
       
    • "Innocent blood had been split. What could atone for that? Ah! for that there was no atonement; but though forgiveness was impossible, forgetfulness was possible still, and he was determined to forget, to stamp the thing out, to crush it as one would crush the adder that had stung one."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 16
       
    • "Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion. It merely intensifies it. We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 17
       
    • "Now if Geoffrey had done the thing on purpose, how interesting he would be! I should like to know someone who had committed a real murder."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 18
       
    • "'what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose'-how does the quotation run?-'his own soul'?"
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 19
       
    • "There was purification in punishment. Not 'Forgive us our sins,' but 'Smite us for our iniquities' should be the prayer of a man to a most just God."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 20
       
    • "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."
      - Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray Ch. 20
       
    Study Guide
    Format
    mla apa chicago
    Your Citation
    Lombardi, Esther. "'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes." ThoughtCo, Oct. 14, 2016, thoughtco.com/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-quotes-741055. Lombardi, Esther. (2016, October 14). 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-quotes-741055 Lombardi, Esther. "'The Picture of Dorian Gray' Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-quotes-741055 (accessed September 24, 2017).