The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 19 - 20 Summary

Dorian, since the demise of James Vane, has decided to live his life differently than he has been. He has decided to be good. In order to achieve this goal, he has taken the first step by breaking off his romance with a country girl. He had been set to run away with the young innocent girl, but instead he tells her he cannot see her anymore.

His friend, Lord Henry, thinks this action will bring about more harm than good for the girl. He feels she will either compare all other men to Dorian or she will kill herself, either way, the young girl's life will lie in ruin, because of Dorian. Dorian does not want to hear such talk and so he changes the subject to the latest gossip in London.

This proves to be an ill choice for Dorian, for now Lord Henry talks of Basil's disappearance, which has been the talk of the town for six weeks. The London police insist Basil boarded the train to Paris, while the Paris police insist he never arrived in Paris. Lord Henry has no idea as to what has happened to Basil, he only hopes he is still alive.

Lord Henry also talks about his divorce and the suicide of Alan Campbell. Alan Campbell, is the man who disposed of Basil's body, under the threat of blackmail from Dorian. Dorian wonders if Lord Henry has considered the fact that Basil might have been murdered. Lord Henry dismisses the notion, because Basil was popular and not smart enough to make enemies. Dorian then takes the supposition one step further, by suggesting he might have been the one to murder Basil. Lord Henry does not believe Dorian for a minute, because, as he explains to Dorian, he does not have the temperament to commit murder.

Lord Henry directs the conversation to the painting Basil did of Dorian. Dorian told him the painting has been missing since he sent it to his country house. Lord Henry is saddened by the news as he had wanted to buy the painting. He feels all of Basil's work, after that painting was of a lessor quality.

Dorian is upset after Lord Henry asks him "what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul". Dorian thinks Lord Henry might know his secret, but in fact it is just a question he heard a street preacher pose.

Dorian's nerves are even more frayed, after Lord Henry asks him the secret to his youthful looks. He tells Dorian he must have a wonderful life, because he has had all that life can offer and never has it show on his face. Dorian disputes Lord Henry's claims, telling him he does not know the real Dorian Gray.

They end their day with the promise of seeing each other the next day for a ride and to visit a friend.

That night Dorian thought about what he and Lord Henry had talked about earlier in the evening. He wonders if it is truly possible for him to change. He thinks of all the lives he has ruined through his actions and how he does not suffer physically from his sins. He wants the chance to start his life over again, to become a good person.

He wonders if his one good deed, saying good bye to the innocent country girl, has changed the picture. He feels good as he walks up the stairs to the room in which the painting is stored. He is sure it has changed, because of his one good act. When he lifts the cover, he sees not improvement, but instead the picture is more horrible than ever. The blood which used to cover his hand, now is on his feet and the smile is the smile of a hypocrite. He wonders if it means he should confess to the murder of Basil, but he reasons himself out of this idea. He feels since there is no physical evidence linking him to Basil's death, than the authorities will feel he has gone mad.

He feels the only course of action for him is to destroy the painting. This way he will be rid of it for once and for all. He will no longer have the worry of its discovery hanging over his every waking moment. He has kept the knife he used to kill Basil in the same room as the painting, so he takes up the knife and plunges it into the painting; a great cry and a crash is heard not only in the house, but in the street also. After a while, Dorian's servants make their way into the room, where they find the painting, looking as it did on the day it was painted. They also find a withered, dead old man lying on the floor who they identify, by his rings, as Dorian Gray.

Dorian is plagued by Basil Hallward's murder and the ruination of others whose lives he touched. He decides to become a good person in hopes of changing the picture. When this effort to change does not have the effect he hopes, he instead attempts to destroy the picture, but instead, only destroys himself.

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