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SHORT PLOT/CHAPTER SUMMARY (Synopsis)
Years pass. Dorian is twenty-five years old. He has become a complete aesthete, living his life in search of beauty and pleasure to the exclusion of all moral responsibility. He places no limits on the kinds of pleasures he allows himself. Basil Hallward visits Dorian, whom he hasnít seen in a long time. He has heard horrible rumors of Dorian and urges Dorian to reform. He is planning to leave London for Paris that night, but he came to see Dorian first because he has been hearing so many disturbing rumors about his young friend. Dorian decides to show Basil the portrait. When Basil sees the portrait, he is horrified. Dorian reminds him of his prayer on the day the portrait was painted, the prayer that he should change place with the portrait and never lose his youthful beauty. Basil begs Dorian to pray with him, urging Dorian to reform immediately. Dorian canít stand seeing Basil like this. He stabs him several times and then leaves him in the room.
The next morning, Dorian calls an ex-lover, Alan Campbell, who is a scientist, to come and help him. Alan hates Dorian, but Dorian urges him to help anyway. When Alan refuses, Dorian threatens to expose their affair and ruin Alanís reputation. Alan sends for chemicals and equipment, goes upstairs, and disposes of the body. That evening, Dorian goes to a dinner party, but has to leave early because he is extremely nervous. When he gets home, he looks in a cabinet and finds some opium. He leaves the house and goes to an opium den. He sees a young man, an aristocrat, whom he corrupted months ago. The young man is addicted to opium and has no connections among his friends any longer. Dorian leaves because he canít stand to be around this young man.
When heís leaving, he scorns a prostitute, another person whom he has presumably ruined, and she calls out to him the name Prince Charming. A sailor, James Vane, who has half-asleep, jumps up at the sound of the name and runs out after Dorian. He catches Dorian outside and threatens to kill him. Dorian tells James to look at his face under a light and he will see that he couldnít possibly be the young man who betrayed Jamesí sister. James does so and sees that Dorian is too young to have been his sisterís lover. He releases Dorian. The prostitute comes out and tells James he should have killed Dorian because Dorian is in fact old enough to have been the Prince Charming of Jamesís sisterís memory. She says Prince Charming made a pact with the devil years ago to retain his youth.
The next weekend, Dorian has a party at his country house. The men are outside hunting and Dorian is cowering inside afraid because he thinks he saw James Vaneís face peeking through the window. Finally, he decides his fears are unfounded and goes out to join the hunting party. He is speaking to a young man when the young man shoots at a rabbit. Instead, it is a man in the bushes who is shot. The men think the man is a peasant who got in the way and find it nothing more than an inconvenience. That evening, Dorianís groundskeeper tells him the man was a stranger, not one of the tenants on Dorianís land. Dorian rushes out to see the body and is relieved to find that it is James Vane who was killed.
Back in London, Lord Henry comes to visit Dorian Gray. Dorian tells him he has decided to reform. He no longer wants to hear Lord Henryís corrupt sayings. He has fallen in love with a country girl and, instead of ruining her life, he left her alone. Lord Henry tells Dorian he did this only for a new sensation of pleasure, the unaccustomed pleasure of doing good. Dorian is shaken in his resolve. When Lord Henry leaves, Dorian becomes upset over the idea that he will never be able to reform. Then he gets the idea that he should destroy the painting, which has by now become horribly ugly. When he stabs the painting, his servants hear his cry out in pain. They break into the locked room and find an old, ugly man in Dorian Grayís clothes lying on the floor dead of a stab wound and a portrait of a beautiful young Dorian Gray hanging intact on the wall.