The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 16 - 18 Summary

Dorian takes a hansom to his favorite opium den. It is there he is going "to cure the souls by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul." This is the advice given to him long ago by Lord Henry, on how to deal with uncomfortable circumstances.

In the den he finds Adrian Singleton, a young man of his acquaintance, who Dorian had a hand in ruining his life. Dorian decides to leave this den in search of another, so he can rid himself of the memory and guilt of Basil's murder. First he and Adrian get a drink, which leads to an encounter, with one of the many women who make a living off the men in the opium den. She approaches Dorian, who in an effort to be rid of her, gives her some money. As he is leaving the den the woman calls Dorian, Prince Charming, this is because he is responsible for her downfall also.

A man hears her words and follows Dorian outside to the alley way. It is James Vane and he wants to avenge his sister's death. The only way he has of identifying the man responsible for Sibyl's suicide is the name Prince Charming. He grabs Dorian and puts a gun to his head. He tells Dorian he needs to repent his sins, because he is going to kill Dorian. Dorian escapes death by asking how long ago Sibyl died. After finding out it is eighteen years ago, he has the man look at his face under a street light. Dorian still looks like a young man of twenty, so James apologies and lets him go. It is only after the woman from the bar tells James the truth of Dorian's youthful looks, does James realize he should have followed through on his threat.

Dorian, a week later, is having a house party with about a dozen guests at his home. He, Lord Henry, and the Duchess of Monmouth are having a conversation touching on a variety of topics. Lord Henry has decided to rename flowers, because he feels the names they have been given do not reflect their beauty. Lord Henry again reasserts his opinion it is better to be beautiful than to be good, conversely he feels it is better to be good than ugly. This leads to a discussion of the seven deadly virtues, which Lord Henry believes is one of the tenets English society is built on. Duchess Monmouth takes from this line of reasoning, that Lord Henry doesn't like England.

From there the conversation changes to a discussion about love and romanticism. At last Dorian decides to go out to his conservatory, to pick an orchid for Duchess Monmouth to wear to dinner that evening. A little while later, a groan followed by a thud comes from the conservatory, which causes Lord Henry to rush to see what has happened. They find Dorian passed out in the conservatory, where he is put on a sofa and there he regains consciousness. The cause of his fainting is the sight of James Vane's face pressed against the window of the conservatory.

After seeing James Vane's face at the window of the conservatory, Dorian has gone to be alone for three days. He is terrified of what fate awaits him and when his death will come. He is also vexed by the thoughts of Basil and the murder of Basil. He does not know how to deal with his emotions, so he decides the sight of James Vane was a trick of his imagination.

On the third day he joins his guests as they are hunting and he sees Sir Geoffrey Clouston, who is Duchess Monmouth's brother, as he has just finished shooting at some birds. While they are talking, a rabbit runs into view, because Dorian is taken by the beauty of the animal, he asks Sir Geoffrey not to shoot it. But, Sir Geoffrey disregards Dorian's request and fires at the animal. They are surprised to hear not only the cry of the rabbit, but also a human cry of pain. One of the beaters, these are men whose job it is to move the animals into view, has been shot and killed.

Dorian sees this incident as a bad omen for him and he tells Lord Henry of his feelings. Lord Henry tells Dorian he is being foolish, it was just an accident. They decide not to talk of the accident anymore, so as to not upset anyone at dinner.

Dorian is very upset by the death of the beater and he decides to go back to town. He is in a hurry to get away from his country home and the fear it incites in him. He is preparing to leave as the head-keeper comes to see him, Dorian thinks the man wants money for the dead man's family. The head-keeper, instead, has surprising news for Dorian, it seems the man is not a beater. He, in fact, is not known by anyone at the hunt, instead they think he is a sailor. This news gives Dorian hope, because he thinks it might be James Vane.

He has the head-keeper meet him at the farm, where the body is being kept. After seeing the body, Dorian is relieved to see it is James Vane. Dorian for the first time in a long time feels safe.

Dorian Gray is approached by James Vane, who wants to kill him to avenge the death of his sister. By tricking the young man, Dorian escapes, only to be hunted by James Vane at Dorian's country home. Dorian's past actions come to haunt him in his imagination and in person. He, while not showing the consequences of his actions, is beginning to feel the weight of his sins.

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