Basil, who up until now was a mediocre painter after meeting Dorian Gray a young Adonis, was inspired to create a masterpiece of which he puts himself into. Against Basil's wishes, Dorian Gray is influenced by Basil's friend Lord Henry. Dorian looks at his portrait and realizes that while the portrait will stay young forever, he will grow old; so Dorian makes a wish that if only he could stay young forever and the portrait can age.
At first Dorian does not realize his wishes been granted. He falls in love with a beautiful young actress who is every woman that Shakespeare ever wrote about. But once again due to Lord Henry's influence, he realizes that she's just a common girl.
Starting with absent-minded acts Dorian slowly sinks into debauchery. And with every new act his picture becomes more grotesque while Dorian stays is young and as innocent looking as the day his picture was painted. What will become of Dorian? What will become of Dorian's painting? What would you do if you were Dorian?
Oscar Wilde paints a picture himself as he describes Dorian Gray's dilemma. And we as readers travel with Dorian as each decision is made. In some places in the story Oscar Wilde seems to drag on and on with detail; however we find that this detail is necessary to set the next scene.
Oscar Wilde himself led a risky life that lead to a jail sentence; is attitudes can be seen in the dialogues in this book.