The Picture of Dorian Gray The Picture of Dorian Gray discussion


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What did he tell Alan Campbell?

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Jason He blackmailed Campbell into disposing of the body. But why did he do it? WHY! OH, WHY, CAMPBY, WHY!?!?!?!?!?!!


Scull17 My guess is Campbell had no choice but to comply because Dorian threatened to expose him. Now the nature of Campbell's secret is indeed up to the reader to conjecture; but judging from some facts about Oscar Wilde's life, the history of the book, and the text itself, it's not much of a stretch to say that Dorian threatened to expose the fact that Campbell was a homosexual.

Reading the book in its historical context, you can imagine why Campbell would have reacted the way he did. Homosexuality was a crime punishable by law. A scandal like this could have thrown a man like Campbell in prison; he would've also faced social and financial ruin.


Torie That part drove me insane. I wanted so badly to know what Dorian told Alan, but the book never explained it! I'm glad that you have a clue about Wilde's life and the possibility of what Dorian could have said. It makes sense enough to me.


Cherylann Scull17 wrote: "My guess is Campbell had no choice but to comply because Dorian threatened to expose him. Now the nature of Campbell's secret is indeed up to the reader to conjecture; but judging from some facts ..."

I'm inclined to agree.


Julia Scull17 wrote: "My guess is Campbell had no choice but to comply because Dorian threatened to expose him. Now the nature of Campbell's secret is indeed up to the reader to conjecture; but judging from some facts ..."

What a fantastic analysis! I never figured the secret out while I was reading and I just chalked it up to something heaps scandolous. But by this argument I'm very inclined to believe it was homosexuality indeed. Well done!


Shiva Scull17 wrote: "My guess is Campbell had no choice but to comply because Dorian threatened to expose him. Now the nature of Campbell's secret is indeed up to the reader to conjecture; but judging from some facts ..."
Yes I must say this looks a plausible conclusion...I second that...!!


Paul But not revealing sins is something of a center piece for the entire book. He never really tells us what Dorian's crimes are either. Somehow by leaving evils up to conjecture, I think the reader is supposed to superimpose his own sins upon those of the protagonists.


Torie ^ Wow, yes, that makes the most sense. Nicely said.


Paul Alternatively, I found it curious that all of the crimes for which Dorian takes responsibility are committed by someone else. Basil created the painting; Sybil takes her own life; Sybil's brother is shot by another hunter; the women who fall to disrepute do so only by means of an ambiguous relationship to Dorian.

I often wonder if the monstrosity of the painting in some way represents Dorian's guilt for crimes that he did not commit.


Julia Paul V. wrote: "Alternatively, I found it curious that all of the crimes for which Dorian takes responsibility are committed by someone else. Basil created the painting; Sybil takes her own life; Sybil's brother i..."

While Dorian didn't actually commit any of those crimes you listed, he was the catalyst for all of them.
Basil and Dorian both wanted to have his portrait done, he was absolutely cruel to Sybil, Sybil's brother was chasing him for breaking Sybil's heart and I have no doubt that he didn't exactly fend off the admiring women.
Dorian brought out the worst in people and he left spoilt reputations in his wake without any remorse. The blood on his hands represented Sybil and her brother's deaths but Dorian himself spent a while questioning whether he actually killed either of them. Sybil wouldn't have done it without Dorian and her brother wouldn't have been there without him either.
It's debatable and I do like the point you brought up but I certainly believe that Dorian was punishable not exactly for the crimes he didn't commit but for being the cause of all the ruined lives.


Patrick I'm glad I didn't hit "post" because Julia said what I was going to only MUCH better regarding his crimes.

Also, while I think that Scully17's suggestion has merit, I think another book is useful here. Like 1984's room 101, whatever was written down was the WORST thing in the world. The shame and horror on that paper is fresh and offensive in any time that the reader picks up the book.

If Mr. Wilde had written "you are a secret homosexual" it wouldn't have anywhere near the bite today it might have had then. By leaving it blank it becomes room 101... the epitome of undeniable blackmail in the reader's mind per their own time and context.


Torie Brilliant!


Julia Patrick wrote: "I'm glad I didn't hit "post" because Julia said what I was going to only MUCH better regarding his crimes.

Also, while I think that Scully17's suggestion has merit, I think another book is useful ..."


Agreed, agreed, agreed.


Oleksa I think, Allan was involved in some kind of drug business. Campbell was talented chemist, and in addition, Dorian have noticed, that Allan was strangely pale and sometimes he have been in some kind of melancholia.


Mejix This article provides great background to the novel:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics...


message 16: by HJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

HJ Thank you, Meijix, for the link to the article in the New Yorker - it was fascinating.


message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura Mitchell Scull17 wrote: "My guess is Campbell had no choice but to comply because Dorian threatened to expose him. Now the nature of Campbell's secret is indeed up to the reader to conjecture; but judging from some facts ..."

For those of you who found this analysis to be a surprise, you may want to re-think the rest of the book taking into account when it was written and who wrote it. One of the reasons Wilde's literature can be so intriguing is, in fact, the nature of his own life and how he lived it.


message 18: by Mejix (last edited Sep 19, 2011 10:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mejix Hj, glad you liked it. Alex Ross is great.


message 19: by Beth (last edited Nov 11, 2011 12:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth Paul V. wrote: "But not revealing sins is something of a center piece for the entire book. He never really tells us what Dorian's crimes are either. Somehow by leaving evils up to conjecture, I think the reader is..."

nice... i like that idea heaps better than the whole homoerotocism we were taught when we studied it. we all just assumed he was gay. but i think thats a much better interpretation and so much more Wilde-ish


Solenoid Paul V. wrote: "But not revealing sins is something of a center piece for the entire book. He never really tells us what Dorian's crimes are either. Somehow by leaving evils up to conjecture, I think the reader is..."

I think this is a really good point, and that this is something that the novel definitely achieves, but I think, realistically, there's a high probability that Wilde took this route because actually writing about homosexuality would have been illegal--or at least aroused suspicion.


Lissette Rosa Scull17 wrote: "My guess is Campbell had no choice but to comply because Dorian threatened to expose him. Now the nature of Campbell's secret is indeed up to the reader to conjecture; but judging from some facts ..."
Excellent point of view. I ask myself the same question, but now that I've read your argument I strongly agree, since part of this book its a reflection of Oscar Wilde life style


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