Chapter 20 Notes from The Picture of Dorian Gray

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The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapter 20

Dorian walks home, becoming annoyed when a few people on the street whisper his name as he goes by. He thinks about the girl, Hetty, telling him that he could not possibly be wicked because the wicked are old and ugly. He wonders if it is truly possible to change, and longs for his real youth, when he was unstained by sin. He thinks how foolish he was to ask for the portrait to bear his sins: "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." Chapter 20, pg. 250 He wishes he had been punished along the way for his sins, because then he would have stopped sinning.

Topic Tracking: Beauty 11

He gets home and looks into the mirror that Lord Henry gave him so long ago; hating his beauty and what it stood for, he smashes the mirror. He thinks about Basil Hallward, and Alan Campbell, who had committed suicide, and James Vane, and is not terribly affected by them; he is good now. Perhaps, he thinks, the portrait has started to go back to the way it was. He takes the lamp and goes upstairs to look at it, expecting to see some of the traces of evil gone.

The portrait has gotten even more ugly and sinful. There is a wicked vain smile on the face, and the hand which started to drip blood after the murder is covered with even more blood. Dorian is shocked at this: has his attempt at being good just been vanity? He realizes that Lord Henry was right: he did this good deed, sparing Hetty, out of vanity, and curiosity. He decides that the painting "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." Chapter 20, pg. 253 He takes the knife that he had used to kill Basil, and stabs the picture.

Conscience/Soul 8

Outside a cry is heard, and people passing by whisper about whose house it is. When Francis, the coachman and the footman go upstairs to investigate, having to go through the roof to get into the locked room, they find the portrait of Dorian as it was when it was first painted, showing him in all his youth and beauty, and a man on the floor, stabbed to death. The man is so old, hideous and evil-looking, he is almost unrecognizable as Dorian Gray.

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