Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”: Basil’s Character Analysis


The novel written by Oscar Wilde under the title The Picture of Dorian Gray displays several strong and well-written characters, one of which, Basil Hallward, requires an in-depth analysis. Basil’s character is central to the plot of the novel since his advocacy for values and virtues, as well as creative work, unfolds Dorian’s character’s journey through contrast with Basil’s ideas. This essay is designed to analyze Basil’s character as a value-centered individual whose beliefs, behavior, and influence on the main character have been ground-forming throughout the book. Basil’s values of love, beauty, sincerity, kindness, and truth establish the core of Oscar Wilde’s moral framework exhibited throughout the novel.

Basil’s Character Analysis

Basil is an artist who appreciates beauty in its purity and is genuinely driven by the purpose of reflecting beauty in his paintings. His first meeting with Dorian Gray displays his openness to beauty and his interest in capturing it in his art due to the strengths of sincere inspiration. When describing his first meeting with Dorian, Baisls states that Dorian is “someone whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature” (Wilde 10). He is open and yet intimidated by the beauty and power of Dorian, which demonstrates Basil’s fragile artistic personality.

Basil is a faithful advocate of religious values, which guide his decision-making and form his worldview. On the contrary to Lord Henry, he prioritizes virtue over sin and strongly believes in the innate good in all people. Indeed, when facing some rumors about Dorian Gray’s evil conduct, Basil refuses to believe them. He states, “mind you, I don’t believe these rumors at all. At least, I can’t believe them when I see you. Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face” (Wilde 143). However, in the novel, his character fails to acknowledge the inevitable power of evil that destroys the goodness in people.

Indeed Basil is so strongly reliant on his morality that he denies his true feelings, being ready to destroy the painting so that it does not cause harm to his close people. The decay of virtues could hinder Basil’s beliefs; he would suffer when realizing that beauty, truth, and goodness are only in art and not in reality. Indeed, when facing the failure of his belief in Dorian, Basil states, “I worshipped you too much. I am punished for it” (Wilde 151). Even during the final encounter with Dorian, Basil continues to believe in forgiveness and changing to a better man for Dorian through prayer. He is a firm believer in moral life where love outperforms hatred and truth is prioritized over lies. Therefore, his death as a result of being murdered by Dorian illustrates the innate power of goodness to endure but, on the other hand, its weakness in the eyes of evil.


In summation, the analysis of Basil’s character in the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray demonstrates that the role of this character in the book is pivotal. His character illustrates the everlasting conflict between good and evil. His values of beauty, genuine relationships, sincerity, truth, and love between people lead him throughout the story. However, the persistent denial of any evil in Dorian eventually becomes the reason why Dorian kills Basil. Thus, Basil’s character reflects the collision of evil with morality, where the strengths of his beliefs could only be eliminated by murder.

Work Cited

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Penguin Books, 2001.

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