Basil Hallward, an artist, is putting the finishing touches on his most recent portrait, which is of a young man, and he is doing so in his studio in London. Basil refused to answer Lord Henry’s question about the young man’s identity, citing his preference for the matter to remain confidential. Lord Henry is currently paying a visit to Basil. Basil has no intention of ever putting the artwork up for public display because if he did, it would expose the most private aspects of his psyche. Nevertheless, Basil lets it slip that Dorian Gray is the subject of the portrait, and not long after that, Dorian Gray pays the two men a visit at their residence.
Dorian is immediately subjected to Lord Henry’s influence, during which he is counselled that he should cherish and protect his youth and beauty while he still possesses them because they will not last forever. Dorian, who is petrified of growing older, expresses the wish that he could give up his soul in exchange for the ability to remain as youthful as he seems in the portrait. A little while later, Dorian expresses the yearning once more that he could remain young as the image in the painting aged. Because of this, the painting starts to take on the characteristics of a living being; in fact, Basil considers it to be “murder” when he threatens to burn the image, and he enjoys spending time with the portrait more than the real Dorian.
Dorian is just casually acquainted with the young actress Sibyl Vane until he suddenly finds himself falling in love with her. She earns the title of “genius” from Dorian, who is more enamoured with her acting than with her personality, and he attributes this to the fact that she plays a different woman throughout each night’s performance. They announce their engagement, which takes Lord Henry and Basil completely by surprise.
The delicious and wholesome Sibyl fills her family in on the details of her upcoming wedding. They are unaware that Dorian is affluent, which is one of the reasons why her mother is opposed to the marriage. Her mother owes Mr. Isaacs, the manager of the theatre, fifty pounds, but she is not aware that Dorian is wealthy. James, Sibyl’s irate brother, is about to leave for Australia, but he has sworn to put an end to Dorian if the latter does anything to hurt his sister. In addition, James confronts his mother about some rumours that he has heard, specifically that his mother and his late father were never married. Mrs. Vane confirms that the rumours are accurate.
Dorian, Lord Henry, and Basil go to a performance of Sibyl’s, but it turns out to be a dreadful show. Dorian receives the news from Sibyl that she can no longer play a role since he has opened her eyes to a more lovely truth. Dorian is appalled by her bad acting because it was her performances that initially piqued his interest in her. As a result, he decides to ignore her and goes back to his house. Surprisingly, the image depicts lines around the lips that are not present on Dorian’s face. These lines imply that the subject was cruel. He has a sneaking suspicion that his wish is going to come true, and as a result, he makes a solemn promise to himself to live a decent life so that he and the image can both continue to look their youthful best. As a result, he plans to apologise to Sibyl the next day and proceed with their wedding despite their previous disagreement.
Unfortunately for him, it is too late: Sibyl took her own life at the theatre later that night. Dorian initially feels responsible for her passing away, but later comes to see it as both a fantastic kind of entertainment and a self-indulgent act on her own. Lord Henry makes an effort to conceal the involvement of Dorian in the controversy. Dorian and Lord Henry decide to go to the opera together for the evening. Basil arrives the following morning and, in light of the events of the previous day, shows concern for Dorian’s wellbeing. Dorian, on the other hand, does not show the slightest bit of sympathy for Sibyl or her family; he is only interested in conversing about cheerful topics. The following day, he places a cloth over his portrait and relocates it to the attic, which is only accessible with Dorian’s key. After that, he settles in to read a yellow book that was sent to him by Lord Henry; Dorian’s life is based on the advice in the book.
Dorian continues to lead a hedonistic lifestyle in accordance with the principles outlined in the yellow book and those developed by Lord Henry over the course of several years. Dorian is still a young man who is beautiful and pure, despite the fact that the face in the portrait has become ugly. People talk about Dorian’s “madness of pleasure” and his terrible influence on the people around him, but he doesn’t give a damn about any of that. It has no bearing on him at all. In the end, when Dorian is thirty-eight years old, he gives the image to Basil. Basil asks Dorian to ask that the request be reversed and to repent of his wickedness. Instead of that, Dorian decides to kill Basil and then bury his body.
Dorian is able to dispose of Basil’s body by blackmailing his longtime buddy Alan Campbell. Basil was a musician. Dorian goes to a party an hour later but quickly becomes distracted and bored there. After that, he goes to an opium den, and on the way, he runs into Sibyl’s younger brother, who has been keeping an eye out for a chance to hurt Dorian for nearly twenty years. Dorian meets him on the street. When Dorian argues that he is not the person James is seeking for since he has the face of a twenty-year-old and therefore cannot be him, he is making a case for mistaken identity. James continues his pursuit of Dorian after learning from a random woman on the street that Dorian “sold himself to the devil for a gorgeous face.” [Citation needed]
One week later, Dorian is entertaining visitors at his rural estate, but he is convinced that James is on the hunt for him. However, Dorian quickly finds out that the man who was killed in the hunting accident was James, and this provides him with a sense of relief.
The final chapter of the book takes place six months later. Dorian and Lord Henry are having dinner together when the conversation takes a more serious turn; Dorian brings up Basil, and Lord Henry muses on a sermon he heard the previous Sunday when he was out strolling in the park. Lord Henry inquires, as well, about the key of Dorian’s eternal youth, but Dorian brushes his inquiry off. Dorian then requests that Lord Henry keep the yellow book to himself and never share it with anybody else. In the evening of the same day, while Dorian is looking at the image, he makes the decision to destroy it using the knife that he used to kill Basil. A short time later, the servants of Dorian, along with a police officer, discover an elderly and unattractive man dead on the ground in front of a painting of a younger and more naive Dorian.