Book Notes Chapter 1 Notes from The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 1

In Basil Hallward's studio in London, Lord Henry Wotton admires the artist's nearly finished new painting, the subject of which is an extremely beautiful young man, and urges Basil to exhibit it at the Grovesnor. (The Grovesnor is smaller and less vulgar than the other commonly used gallery, the Academy.) Basil, however, does not want to exhibit the portrait because he has put too much of himself in it. Lord Henry thinks this idea is preposterous, considering Basil has very little beauty about him: "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." Chapter 1, pg. 3 Basil maintains that he does not mean that he himself is beautiful, and furthermore would not want to be so: "The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play." Chapter 1, pg. 4 Basil inadvertently tells Lord Henry the subject's name--Dorian Gray--and then explains that he wanted to keep his name a secret, because things are more wonderful when they are kept secret. Lord Henry agrees; he keeps everything secret from his wife.

Topic Tracking: Beauty 1

Lord Henry asks again Basil's reason for not exhibiting the painting, and Basil tells him: "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." Chapter 1, pg. 6

Topic Tracking: Conscience/Soul 1

He tells Lord Henry the story of how he met Dorian. He was at a party hosted by Lady Brandon, and he noticed Dorian and had this impression: "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. Chapter 1, pg. 7

Topic Tracking: Influence 1

Being independent by nature, Basil tried to escape the party but Lady Brandon captured him and introduced him to several people, and then Basil asked to be introduced to Dorian, and introduction which Basil now considers inevitable. Basil explains that seeing Dorian Gray every day makes him extremely happy, and that Dorian's presence has taken Basil's art to an entirely new level. Lord Henry insists that he must meet this young man, but Basil explains that Dorian does not know of this influence he has, the fact that his presence has so dramatically influenced Basil's soul, and he does not want him to know. Lord Henry maintains that poets show the deepest parts of their souls all the time in their art, but Basil considers this to be poor taste. "An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them." Chapter 1, pg. 12 Lord Henry asks Basil how Dorian feels about him, and Basil replies that although Dorian can be thoughtless sometimes, he clearly likes Basil; Lord Henry tells Basil that eventually, the romance in their relationship will fade: "Someday 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. Chapter 1, pg. 13 Basil says that this will never happen.

Lord Henry thinks how glad he is that he stayed longer and didn't get to his aunt's place on time, where he would have had to sit though endless hypocritical conversations about how good it is to work, and to be thrifty, spoken by rich people who do not work and have no need of thrift. He suddenly remembers and tells Basil that the first time he heard Dorian's name mentioned was in the company of his Aunt Agatha, who was very fond of the young man. Basil expresses that he is glad Lord Henry did not meet Dorian at his aunt's house; he does not want them to meet at all. The butler announces that Dorian Gray is in the parlor, and Lord Henry demands that they be introduced. Basil makes Lord Henry promise not to be a bad influence on Dorian.

Topic Tracking: Influence 2

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