The warning has its effect, and he resolves to beg Sibyl to pardon his outburst and to marry him. True, the warning comes too late to make Sibyl any happier, but Dorian takes his first step down to the abyss of his doom when he shows no real sorrow at her fate and goes to enjoy himself at the opera with Harry Wotton. The Picture is a mere reflection of his inner nature-its effect on him should have been positive, but Dorian chose to ignore its message.
The artist Basil Hallward might have been inclined to blame himself, at least in part, for Dorian's disaster, but it is actually Basil who tries the hardest to preserve Dorian's 'purity.' The question is whether Dorian was ever pure. When he senses that Basil was not too keen on his becoming intimate with Lord Wotton, Dorian perversely pushes for Wotton to stay longer at their first meeting. Anyway, Harry Wotton had privately determined to stay, and to become intimate enough with Dorian to 'influence' him. Basil's death was occasioned by his own attempts to bring Dorian back to the straight path. Dorian not only does not follow his advice, he mouths Wotton's words only to irritate Basil. When Basil tries hard to get him to repent and turn a new leaf, he is not only unscrupulously murdered but ruthlessly vaporized by Dorian for his pains.
It might be argued that Lord Henry Wotton should be found guilty of influencing the course of Dorian's dark life and thus be held responsible for the dreadful death of the young man. It was, after all, he who influenced Dorian, by his very persuasive words and views, and by his gift of the 'yellow book' to be a 'hedonist.' In reply, one might say that Dorian actively sought to be influenced by Harry, and actively exceeded the scope and field of the influence. Moreover, if he understood that Harry Wotton only preached hedonism without really practicing it, he did not follow that admirable example. He chose to be first a narcissist and then a hedonist, before ending up as a detestably extreme combination of both. Conversing with Dorian at the end of the novel, Lord Wotton appears a nave greenhorn before a connoisseur of vice.
Anyone with some knowledge of the details of Oscar Wilde's biography would be quick to discern aspects of Wilde in characters as diverse as Basil Hallward, Harry Wotton, and Dorian Gray. There would surely be some who would blame Wilde for the 'immorality' of Wotton and Gray. The course of the novel, however, makes it clear that the author's standpoint is characterized by the highest standards of true morality and sincerity, rather than conventional hypocrisy or downright immorality. Again, any inclination to lay the blame at the door of God or Fate would have to be checked by the awareness that Dorian's downslide is active, rather than passive or forced, from the moment he chose hedonism over repentance, on hearing of Sibyl's death.
Victorian hypocrisy has been attacked more strongly by few Victorians other than Oscar Wilde, and he is as audacious as ever in giving the five-finger-salute to the Society of the times. In fact, towards the end, Dorian Gray makes a very rare affirmation of sensitivity when he tries to prevent the shooting of a hare. Ironically, it was not a hare, but a man it was that died-the very man who had been stalking Dorian Gray. The