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The Portrait of Dorian Grey Quotes: Top 10 Quotes to Explore the Dark Side

Discover the profound wisdom of Oscar Wilde in "The Portrait of Dorian Grey" quotes. Immerse yourself in literary quotes about beauty and indulge in famous quotes from this classic novel.
by The Blinkist Team | Nov 13 2023

The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” written by Oscar Wilde, is a captivating novel that was first published in 1890. This literary masterpiece continues to be relevant today due to its exploration of themes such as the pursuit of beauty, the corrupting influence of society, and the consequences of living a life devoid of moral responsibility. Wilde’s witty and thought-provoking writing style, combined with the novel’s examination of the human condition, makes “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” a must-read for literature enthusiasts and those interested in the complexities of human nature.


Step into the world of Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” and explore the dark side of human nature with our top 10 quotes. This haunting and thought-provoking novel delves into themes of vanity, corruption, and the pursuit of pleasure at any cost. Through these powerful quotes, we will unravel the complexities of Dorian Gray’s character and the moral dilemmas he faces. Join us as we delve into the depths of Wilde’s literary masterpiece and discover the profound insights it offers into the human psyche.

10 Hauntingly Beautiful Quotes from “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

Oscar Wilde

This line highlights the significance of being noticed and acknowledged. It suggests that being the subject of conversation, even if it involves criticism or gossip, is preferable to being ignored or forgotten. It implies that having an impact, whether positive or negative, is more desirable than being overlooked or insignificant. This quote encourages individuals to strive for recognition and to make their presence known in order to leave a lasting impression.

What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination.

Oscar Wilde

This quote emphasizes the notion that what some may perceive as loyalty and fidelity can often be attributed to either a stagnant adherence to tradition or a lack of imagination. It challenges the idea that blindly following established norms or expectations is a true testament of loyalty, suggesting that true loyalty and fidelity require a level of critical thinking and imaginative exploration. This quote encourages individuals to question the status quo and to cultivate a sense of curiosity and open-mindedness in order to truly demonstrate loyalty and fidelity.

Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect – simply a confession of failures.

Oscar Wilde

This quote highlights the importance of faithfulness in our emotional lives. It draws a parallel between faithfulness and consistency, suggesting that just as consistency is a reflection of intellectual integrity, faithfulness is a confession of our emotional failures. It implies that being faithful requires acknowledging and learning from our mistakes and shortcomings in relationships. This quote encourages us to strive for emotional honesty and growth, recognizing that true faithfulness involves a willingness to confront and address our own shortcomings.

Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world’s original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.

Oscar Wilde

This quote reminds us of the importance of humor and not taking ourselves too seriously. It suggests that humanity’s tendency to be serious and grave is a fundamental flaw, often leading to conflict and missed opportunities. The quote humorously imagines a different history if even the cave-man had known how to laugh, implying that laughter and lightheartedness have the potential to change the course of events. This quote encourages us to embrace humor and find joy in life, reminding us that laughter can be a powerful force for positive change.

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

Oscar Wilde

This quote highlights the idea that the true wonders and mysteries of the world can be found in the visible, tangible aspects of life, rather than in the unseen or intangible. It suggests that there is so much beauty, complexity, and intrigue in the visible world around us, and that we should focus our attention and curiosity on exploring and understanding these aspects. This quote encourages us to appreciate and marvel at the wonders of the visible world, reminding us that there is so much to discover and learn from what is right in front of us.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.

Oscar Wilde

Once again, Oscar Wilde challenges conventional notions of morality and literature with his thought-provoking quote. He argues that books cannot be categorized as moral or immoral, but rather as well written or badly written. Wilde suggests that the value of a book lies in its craftsmanship and literary merit, rather than its adherence to societal standards of morality. This quote encourages readers to appreciate the artistry and skill of a book, regardless of its content, and to recognize that literature can serve as a reflection of the complexities of human nature.

You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.

Oscar Wilde

This quote, from Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest,” captures the paradoxical nature of knowledge and self-awareness. It suggests that while we may possess more knowledge than we realize, there is always an insatiable desire to know more. It highlights the inherent limitation of human understanding, reminding us that there will always be gaps in our knowledge and areas where we yearn for more insight. This quote encourages us to embrace the endless pursuit of knowledge while acknowledging the vastness of what we still do not know.

I want to be good. I can’t bear the idea of my soul being hideous.

Oscar Wilde

This line highlights the significance of striving for goodness and maintaining a beautiful soul. It reflects a deep desire to be morally upright and avoid any actions or behaviors that would tarnish one’s character. The quote suggests that the individual is driven by a fear of becoming morally repugnant and is committed to cultivating inner beauty and integrity. It serves as a reminder to prioritize ethical values and maintain a virtuous nature.

Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

This quote emphasizes that experience is not just a collection of successes and triumphs, but also includes the mistakes and failures that we encounter along the way. It suggests that our mistakes are not something to be ashamed of or avoided, but rather an integral part of our growth and learning process. By reframing experience as the name we give to our mistakes, this quote encourages us to embrace and learn from our failures, recognizing that they contribute to our overall development and wisdom.

Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

Wilde offers a thought-provoking insight into the human condition and the nature of regret. This quote suggests that many people live their lives guided by conventional wisdom and societal expectations, only to realize too late that the only things they truly regret are the missed opportunities and mistakes they never made. It challenges us to question the notion of “common sense” and encourages us to embrace risk-taking and learning from our mistakes. Wilde’s words serve as a reminder to live authentically and pursue our passions, knowing that it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.

In conclusion, “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” offers a chilling and captivating exploration of the dark side of human nature. Through these top 10 quotes, we have delved into the complexities of Dorian Gray’s character and the moral dilemmas he faces. Wilde’s masterpiece serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the consequences of unchecked vanity and the pursuit of pleasure without regard for morality. It encourages us to reflect upon our own actions and the choices we make in order to maintain our integrity and preserve our souls. As we close the book on this journey into darkness, let us carry with us the lessons learned and strive for a life guided by virtue and compassion.


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