The Picture of Dorian Gray: chapter 17

1. What or who do Lord and Lady Monmouth stand for (read chapter 15 again for more elements)?

Lady Monmouth probably stands for youth, innocence and beauty imprisoned and degraded by experience.

2. How does Dorian react when someone says “he was christened Prince Charming”? Why?

He doesn’t want to be called that, because it reminds him of Sibyl and James.

3. a. When Lady Narborough asks Dorian if he agrees with Lord Henry that “We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible” “especially when one has been wounded by it,” what does he answer and how? What does this imply?

His answer is yes since he says that he always agrees with Lord Henry.

However, this is a general statement that does not address the specific question that he is aked. This implies that Dorian is too embarrassed to answer precisely.

b. Why (What is the meaning and importance of this sentence for Dorian)?

If Dorian is embarrassed, it is probably because the topic is too close to home. It probably reminds him that he cannot recover his innocence. It also probably reminds him of his experience with Sibyl, which marked the end of innocence for him.

4. Why does Dorian say “I have never searched for happiness. Who wants happiness? I have searched for pleasure”?

This shows his adherence to Lord Henry’s philosophy that the aim of life is to experience as many things as possible for the sake of it.
Moreover, happiness refers to a permanent state, at least partly independent of pleasure. Like Lord Henry, he does not believe in such a thing. In Lord Henry’s Epicurean philosophy, it is impossible to be happy without feeling pleasure.

5. What does Dorian mean when he says he has found pleasure “too often”?

Maybe that pleasure has had a negative influence on him, making him vain and easily bored because he cannot appreciate pleasure any more. In addition, having his every desire gratified has made him lose touch with reality.

6. Why does Dorian fall down?

Because he thinks he sees James Vane.

7. Why does he insist on staying with the house party?

Because he is afraid of meeting James.

Chapter 18

8. Complete this summary.

a. After spending a few days locked up, Dorian joins the party, who go shooting game.

b. He wants to stop Gladys’s brother, Geoffrey, from shooting a hare because he is moved by this sight. The hare represents the innocence he has lost.

c. Geoffrey shoots anyway and accidentally kills a man.

d. Dorian is very afraid because he thinks he sees James Vane in the garden (although it is actually a gardener).

e. Later he is relieved because the man Geoffrey killed was James Vane.

9. Find a proof of Lord Henry’s cynicism (why does he say that it’s not a good thing to shoot beaters?).

He says that beaters should not be shot not out of respect for their lives but because it makes people think you are a lousy shot.

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