22 Thought-Provoking Essay Topics On Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a popular option for teachers in literature classes. After reading this classic piece by Oscar Wilde, the next step is to write a thought-provoking paper. Since Oscar Wilde continues to be an oft-quoted inspiration for many, it is only fitting the essay topic be just as inspirational. Here are 22 topic ideas:

  1. How does Lord Henry influence Dorian?
  2. Describe the relationship between Lord Henry and Dorian.
  3. Discuss whether or not the novel is artistic.
  4. Evaluate the relationship between Dorian and Basil.
  5. Is it a gothic novel? Explain.
  6. What is Sibyl Vane’s role.
  7. Is it a Faustian story? Explain.
  8. What is the purpose of Dorian destroying the painting?
  9. Show the similarities and differences between Lord Henry and Basil.
  10. How do the different male characters define masculinity?
  11. Share your thoughts on the idea of beauty in the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.
  12. Discuss the significance of the title.
  13. Offer a psychoanalysis of Dorian Gray or another character from The Picture of Dorian Gray.
  14. Does Dorian Gray have a mental illness?
  15. How do the names fit the characters?
  16. Choose a quote from the book and share the significance of it in the story.
  17. Select a theme of The Picture of Dorian Gray and show the aspects of the novel that led you to that conclusion.
  18. Discuss the changes that Dorian Gray experiences and how they affect the outcome of the novel.
  19. What elements from mythology are present in the book?
  20. Select a review of the novel and discuss whether you agree or disagree with it. Explain your thoughts.
  21. The Picture of Dorian Gray has been labeled as a cautionary tale. What does it warn the reader about?
  22. Watch a film version. Then discuss the quality of the adaptation.

Essay ideas can also involve comparing and contrasting the novel with another of Oscar Wilde’s works. Since Wilde was more of an essayist and short story writer, there are many small pieces that would appropriate to discuss in a literature paper. Many students also enjoy looking at Wilde’s personal life and lifestyle to compare it to that of Dorian Gray.


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