🇺🇸 Great Quotes from “The Picture of Dorian Grey”

Having had a pleasant time reading “The picture of Dorian Gray”, I decided to put out some great quotes I had come across in reading the book.

Say what you will about Mr. Wilde, but the gentleman sure had a way with stringing words together into something truly worth reading and thinking over, not to mention the fact that Mr. Wilde was and still is considered to be one of the greatest Britain’s wit.

Wilde: “I wish I’d said that.”

Whistler: “You will, Oscar, you will”.

Be that as it may, strap yourselves in, warm up your perception, concentrate real hard like you have never done it before, and prepare yourselves to be bombarded by immense wits of Oscar Wilde.

*The image is taken from: http://emilymarshillustration.com/

I have warned you!

It is personalities, not principles, that move the age.

Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.

Philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. It is their distinguishing characteristic.

Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.

Like all people who try to exhaust a subject, he exhausted his listeners.

…It is the problem of slavery, and we try to solve it by amusing the slaves.

If the caveman had known how to laugh, History would have been different.

He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.

Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

One could never pay too high a price for any sensation.

Our weakest motives were those of whose nature we were conscious

The real drawback to marriage is that it makes one unselfish.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror

When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.

I love acting. It is so much more real than life.

One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.

there is a fatality about good resolutions — that they are always made too late.

nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.

Conscience makes egotists of us all.

We live in an age that reads too much to be wise, and that thinks too much to be beautiful.

Don’t talk about horrid subjects. If one doesn’t talk about a thing, it has never happened.

I cannot repeat an emotion. No one can, except sentimentalists.

To become the spectator of one’s own life … is to escape the suffering of life.

Perhaps one never seems so much at one’s ease as when one has to play a part.

Nowadays all the married men live like bachelors, and all the bachelors like married men.

One should never do any thing that one cannot talk about after dinner.

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.

I can sympathise with everything, except suffering…

One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.

Moderation is a fatal thing. Enough is as bad as a meal. More than enough is as good as a feast.

Nowadays 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.

Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious; both are disappointed

there are only five women in London worth talking to, and two of these can’t be admitted into decent society.

You will always be loved, and you will always be in love with love. A grande passion is the privilege of people who have nothing to do.

When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.

Most people become bankrupt through having invested too heavily in the prose of life. To have ruined one’s self over poetry is an honour.

People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity.

As it was, we always misunderstood ourselves, and rarely understood others. Experience was of no ethical value. It was merely the name men gave to their mistakes.

…our future would be the same as our past, and that the sin we had done once, and with loathing, we would do many times, and with joy.

There was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence. No other activity was like it.

The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.

I wonder who it was defined man as a rational animal. It was the most premature definition ever given. Man is many things, but he is not rational.

The costume of the nineteenth century is detestable. It is so sombre, so depressing. Sin is the only real colour-element left in modern life.

I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.

Well, the way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test Reality we must see it on the tight-rope. When the Verities become acrobats we can judge them.

It often happened that when we thought we were experimenting on others we were really experimenting on ourselves.

Women defend themselves by attacking, just as they attack by sudden and strange surrenders.

Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.

I have a distinct remembrance of being married, but I have no recollection at all of being engaged. I am inclined to think that I never was engaged.

I asked the question for the best reason possible, for the only reason, indeed, that excuses one for asking any question — simple curiosity.

Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.

Believe me, no civilised man ever regrets a pleasure, and no uncivilised man ever knows what a pleasure is.

Women treat us just as Humanity treats its gods. They worship us, and are always bothering us to do something for them.

Women, as some witty Frenchman once put it, inspire us with the desire to do masterpieces, and always prevent us from carrying them out.

There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating — people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.

who were extremely old-fashioned people and did not realise that we live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.

the only way a woman can ever reform a man is by boring him so completely that he loses all possible interest in life.

It is perfectly monstrous, … the way people go about nowadays saying things against one behind one’s back that are absolutely and entirely true.

When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs

If we women did not love you for your defects, where would you all be? Not one of you would ever be married. You would be a set of unfortunate bachelors.

What nonsense people talk about happy marriages! … A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her.

The common world of fact the wicked were not punished, nor the good rewarded. Success was given to the strong, failure thrust upon the weak. That was all.

Civilisation is not by any means an easy thing to attain to. There are only two ways by which man can reach it. One is by being cultured, the other by being corrupt.

My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.

There were poisons so subtle that to know their properties one had to sicken of them. There were maladies so strange that one had to pass through them if one sought to understand their nature.

To note the curious hard logic of passion, and the emotional coloured life of the intellect — to observe where they met, and where they separated, at what point they were in unison, and at what point they were at discord — there was a delight in that!

Why, even in love it is purely a question for physiology. It has nothing to do with our own will. Young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot: that is all one can say.

But I hear they let them in now by examination. What can you expect? Examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end. If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever he knows is bad for him.

we are overcharged for everything nowadays. I should fancy that the real tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self-denial. Beautiful sins, like beautiful things, are the privilege of the rich.

women were better suited to bear sorrow than men. They lived on their emotions. They only thought of their emotions. When they took lovers, it was merely to have someone with whom they could have scenes.

I am afraid that women appreciate cruelty, downright cruelty, more than anything else. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same

You don’t know what an existence they lead down there. It is pure unadulterated country life. They get up early, because they have so much to do, and go to bed early because they have so little to think about

Each man lived his own life, and paid his own price for living it. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. One had to pay over and over again, indeed. In her dealings with man Destiny never closed her accounts.

I never quarrel with actions. My one quarrel is with words. That is the reason I hate vulgar realism in literature. The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for.

Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. That is all

But women never know when the curtain has fallen. They always want a sixth act, and as soon as the interest of the play is entirely over they propose to continue it. If they were allowed their own way, every comedy would have a tragic ending, and every tragedy would culminate in a farce. They are charmingly artificial, but they have no sense of art.

Ordinary women always console themselves. Some of them do it by going in for sentimental colours. Never trust a woman who wears mauve, whatever her age may be, or a woman over thirty-five who is fond of pink ribbons. It always means that they have a history.

Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws. Their origin is pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil. They give us, now and then, some of those luxurious sterile emotions that have a certain charm for the weak. That is all that can be said for them. They are simply cheques that men draw on a bank where they have no account.

Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?

Ordinary people waited till life disclosed to them its secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. But now and then a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art; was indeed, in its way, a real work of art, Life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetry has, or sculpture, or painting.

The only artists I have ever known, who are personally delightful, are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.

I find that, ultimately, there are only two kinds of women, the plain and the coloured. The plain women are very useful. If you want to gain a reputation for respectability, you have merely to take them down to supper. The other women are very charming. They commit one mistake, however. They paint in order to try and look young. Our grandmothers painted in order to try and talk brilliantly. Rouge and esprit used to go together. That is all over now. As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied.

Funny descriptions

She tried to look picturesque, but only succeeded in being untidy.

when people wore high stocks, believed in everything, and knew absolutely nothing.

whom the outside world called selfish because it derived no particular benefit from him, but who was considered generous by Society as he fed the people who amused him

and on succeeding some months later to the title, had set himself to the serious study of the great aristocratic art of doing absolutely nothing.

…whose dresses always looked as if they had been designed in a rage and put on in a tempest.

hinted at prudence, quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes the name of common sense.

He atones for being occasionally somewhat over-dressed, by being always absolutely over-educated. He is a very modern type.

They are more cunning than practical. When they make up their ledger, they balance stupidity by wealth, and vice by hypocrisy.

an old gentleman of considerable charm and culture, who had fallen, however, into bad habits of silence, having, as he explained once to Lady Agatha, said everything that he had to say before he was thirty.


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