Character Analysis

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Alan Campbell

Alan Campbell is a former friend of Dorian's. He is a brilliant man, having excelled as a scientist at Cambridge University, and is now known for his study of chemistry. He met Dorian through their mutual interest in music. The two men were close friends for eighteen months. But the friendship ended suddenly, for reasons that are not explained. Dorian summons Campbell to his house to dispose of the body of Basil Hallward, a task which Campbell initially refuses to do. He appears to dislike his former friend. But he is persuaded to do Dorian's bidding when Dorian blackmails him, threatening to reveal some secrets from his past. Campbell later commits suicide by shooting himself.

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Lord Fermor

Henry Wotton's uncle. He is an old bachelor who long ago "set himself to the serious study of the great aristocratic art of doing absolutely nothing." He tells Henry about Dorian's family history.

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Dorian Gray

A young man of about twenty when the novel begins. He is exceptionally good-looking, and both Basil Hallward and Lord Henry are attracted to his innocent beauty. Henry admires his "finely-curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair."

Dorian was well-provided for, and inherits more money when he comes of age. Basil describes Dorian as possessing "a simple and beautiful nature," and indeed he is an agreeable and charming man, but he also can be thoughtless. Dorian is so struck by his own beauty in the picture that he makes his fateful wish that he should forever remain young and that aging should be reflected only in the portrait. His desire to retain his youth is partly a result of Lord Henry's dominant influence on him.

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Dorian Gray

Henry persuades him that youth and beauty are the most valuable things in life. As a result of Henry's influence, Dorian decides to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle, always seeking out new sensations and dedicating himself to beauty and art. But in his pursuit of pleasure, Dorian also commits numerous unnamed sins, and many of his friends turn against him or are ruined by their contact with him. Eventually he murders Basil when his old friend confronts him about the rumors that are circulating around his degenerate behaviour

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Basil Hallward

Basil Hallward is a well-known artist whose life is turned upside down when he meets Dorian. He is so taken by Dorian's beauty that he virtually falls in love with him. Dorian models, which enables Basil to produce work of a higher order than he has managed before. He simply adores Dorian, who gives him a vision of an entirely new school of art "that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek." His devotion to Dorian leads him to jealousy when Dorian falls in love with Sibyl Vane.

Basil then confesses to Dorian the feelings he had about him when they first met: "I was dominated, soul, brain, and power by you. You became to me the visible incarnation of that unseen ideal whose memory haunts us artists like an exquisite dream."

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Adrian Singleton

Adrian Singleton is a former friend of Dorian's. He is one of the young men who have been ruined by their contact with Dorian. None of Adrian's friends will speak to him any more. Dorian encounters him again in the opium den, where Adrian indulges his opium addiction.

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Lord Henry Wotton

Lord Henry Wotton is an aristocrat who is about thirty years old when the novel begins. He is married to Victoria and is a friend of Basil Hallward. Lord Henry is brilliant, witty and cynical. He delights in entertaining people with epigrams that use paradox to undermine conventional morality, and he frequently expresses misogynist views. His wife eventually leaves him for another man.
Henry is a cultivated, refined man who is at home in all the arts. He also represents what he calls the new Hedonism. He worships beauty and art, and advocates indulgence in all sensual experiences in order to fully taste what life has to offer. But he also advocates maintaining a detached attitude, in which one is a spectator of one's own life. 

Henry's detachment from the realities of life (as opposed to the aesthetic delight offered by art and beautiful objects) means that he lacks genuine human sympathies. He fails to console Dorian after Sibyl's death, which he likens to something out of a Jacobean play. His influence on Dorian turns out to be a negative one, and leads Dorian down a path that leads to his destruction.

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Sibyl Vane

Sibyl Vane: Sibyl Vane is a seventeen-year-old actress who plays leading roles in Shakespeare productions at a small theater in one of the rougher parts of London. Dorian falls in love with her because of her ability to bring great art to life. He describes her as shy and gentle. "There is something of a child about her," he says. Dorian and Sibyl become engaged, and when Henry and Basil come to watch her perform, Henry is impressed by her beauty. But when Sibyl falls in love with Dorian, she loses interest in her acting. She thinks real love is more important than the love that is presented in plays. But this makes Dorian lose all interest in her and he declares that he does not want to see her again. Devastated, Sibyl commits suicide by drinking acid.

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Victoria Wotton

Victoria Wotton is Henry's wife. Their marriage is not a close one, and they live largely separate lives. Victoria "was usually in love with somebody, and, as her passion was never returned, she had kept all her illusions." Victoria later leaves Henry for another man.

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