One of Dorian's friends, Basil Hallward, was a famous
artist. He painted a beautiful portrait of Dorian. Later Dorian
made a wish that he could stay as beautiful as his portrait and
never grow old. His wish was answered. But
from then on, no-one
ever saw the portrait. Then, one day, Basil Hallward came to
Dorian's house and asked to see the picture he had painted so many
cry of fear came from the painter's lips when he saw the face in
the portrait. It was Dorian Gray's face he was looking at, and it
still had some of that wonderful beauty. But now there were
terrible signs of age and corruption. But who had done it? He held
the lamp up to the picture. In the left hand corner was his name,
painted in red.
What had happened? He had never done that.
Still, it was his own
picture. He knew it, and
it made his blood turn to ice. His own
picture! What did it mean? Why had it changed? He turned, and
looked at Dorian Gray with the eyes of a sick man.
The young man was standing near the wall, watching him. He had
taken the flower out of his coat, and was smelling it.
"What does this mean?" cried Hallward, at last. His own
voice sounded high and strange.
"Years ago, when I was a boy," said Dorian Gray, closing
his hand on the flower, "you met me and
flattered me. You
taught me to love my beauty. One day you introduced me to a friend
of yours. He explained to me how wonderful it was to be young. You
finished a portrait of me that showed me how wonderful it was to
be beautiful. In a
mad moment I made a wish."
"I remember it! Oh, how well I remember it! No! The thing is
impossible. There is something wrong with the paint. I tell you
the thing is impossible."
"Is anything really impossible?" said the young man,
going over to the window.
"You told me you had
"I was wrong. It has destroyed me."
"I don't believe it is my picture. There was nothing bad in
shameful. You were perfect to me. This is a face
"It is the face of my
soul. Each of us has Heaven and Hell in
him, Basil," cried Dorian wildly.
Hallward turned again to the portrait, and
stared at it. "My
God! Is this true?" he cried. "Is this what you have
done with your life? You must be even worse than people say!"
Hallward threw himself into the chair by the table and put his
face in his hands. The lamp fell to the floor and
"Good God, Dorian! What an
awful lesson! What an awful
lesson!" There was no answer, but he could hear the young man
crying at the window. "We must ask God for
I worshipped you too much. I am
punished for it. You worshipped
yourself too much. We are both punished."
Dorian Gray turned slowly around and looked at him. There were
tears in his eyes. "It is too late, Basil," he said.
"But don't you see that
hellish thing staring at us?"
Dorian Gray looked at the picture. Suddenly he felt that he hated
Basil Hallward. He hated the man sitting at the table more than he
hated anything in his life.
He looked wildly around. Something shone on top of the painted
cupboard that faced him. It was a knife he had left there some
days before. He moved slowly towards it, passing Hallward as he
did so. He took the knife in his hand and turned around. Hallward
moved in his chair. He rushed at him, and stuck the knife into his
neck again and again...
Dorian continued to live as though nothing had happened. But,
underneath, he was tormented by what he had done.
Was it really true that one could never change? There had been a
time when he had been good and innocent. He had corrupted himself,
and become a terrible influence on others. He had even got
pleasure from this corruption. Yet his soul had once been the
purest of all. Was all that gone? Was there no hope for him?
In one terrible moment of passion, he had asked to stay young for
all time. All his failure had been because of that. He had not
been punished, but perhaps punishment was what he had needed.
Punishment cleaned the soul.
The mirror that Lord Henry had given to him, so many years ago
now, was standing on the table.
He picked it up, remembering that
horrible night when he had first noticed the change in the
picture. Once, someone who had loved him passionately had written
him a mad letter. It had ended with these words: "The world
is changed because you are made of gold." He repeated them to
himself and suddenly realized that he
hated his own beauty.
Throwing the mirror on the floor, he broke the glass into little
pieces with his foot. It was his beauty that had spoiled him.
It was better not to think of the past. Nothing could change that.
He had to think of his future. Alan Campbell had shot himself one
night, and his terrible secret had died with him. The interest in
Basil Hallward's disappearance
would soon pass away. He was
perfectly safe there.
What worried him was the death of his own soul. Basil had painted
the portrait that had done everything. The murder had just been
the madness of the moment. As for Alan Campbell, he had killed
It was nothing to do with Dorian Gray.
A new life! That was what he wanted. That was what he was waiting
for. Perhaps it had begun already. He would never again spoil
innocence. He would be good.
He began to wonder if the portrait in the
locked room had changed.
Was it still as horrible as it had been? Perhaps if his life
became pure, the face in the portrait would become beautiful
again. He would go and look.
He took the lamp from the table and went upstairs. As he opened
the door, a smile of happiness passed across his young face. Yes,
he would be good, and the ugly thing
he had locked away would not
frighten him any more. He felt happier already.
went in quietly,
locking the door behind him. Walking straight
over to the portrait, he took off the purple curtain that was
covering it. An angry cry of pain came from him. He could see no
change. The thing was still hateful - more hateful, even, than
before. The red mark on the hand seemed brighter and more like new
blood. And why was the red mark larger than it had been? It was
all over the fingers now. There was blood on the painted feet, and
blood on the hand that had not held the knife.
What did it all mean? That he should go to the police? That he
should tell the whole story and be put to death? He laughed. He
felt the idea was absurd. If he did tell them now, who would
believe him? There was nothing left of the murdered man anywhere.
He had destroyed everything belonging to Basil Hallward. He
himself had burned the bag and the coat. They would simply say he
Was this murder to follow him all his life? Was he always going to
suffer because of his past? Yet what could he do? Go to the
There was only one thing they could use against him and that was
the picture itself. He would destroy it. Why had he kept it
long? Once it had given him pleasure to watch it changing and
growing old. Recently he had felt no such pleasure. It had kept
him awake at night. When he had been away, he had been frightened
that another person would see it. Just the memory of it spoiled
many moments of happiness. He would destroy it.
He looked around and saw the knife that had killed Basil Hallward.
He had cleaned it many times until there was no mark left on it.
It was bright, and it
shone. It had killed the painter. Now it
would kill the painter's work, and all that it meant. It would
kill the past. When that was dead he would be free. He picked up
the knife and pushed it into the picture.
There was a cry, and a crash. The cry was so horrible that
frightened servants woke and came out of their rooms. Two
gentlemen, who were passing in the Square below, stopped, and
looked up at the great house. They hurried on until they met a
policeman, and brought him back. The policeman rang the bell
several times, but there was no answer. Except for a light in one
of the top windows, the house was all dark. After a time, he went
away and stood in the garden of the next house and watched.
"Whose house is that?" asked the older of the two
"Mr Dorian Gray's, sir," answered the policeman.
They looked at each other as they walked away, and laughed
cruelly. They knew who Dorian Gray was.
Inside the house the servants were talking
in low whispers to each
other. Old Mrs Leaf was crying. Francis was
as white as death.
After about a quarter of an hour, they went fearfully upstairs.
They knocked, but there was no reply. They called out. Everything
was still. They tried the door. It was locked. Finally, they got
on the roof and came into the room through the window.
When they entered the room they found a portrait hanging on the
wall. It showed Mr Dorian Gray as they had last seen him, young
and beautiful. Lying on the floor was a dead man in evening dress.
He had a knife in his heart. He was old and horribly ugly. It was
not until they saw his rings that they recognized who the man was.