A Critique of the Ending of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian GrayTruly, suspense is a positive attribute – up to a certain point. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray ends with too many loose ends. What did Alan Campbell do to Dorian that was “stern, harsh, offensive”(Wilde 125)? It appears that whatever Campbell did was quite serious: when Dorian threatens to send a letter to someone regarding Campbell’s past misconduct, Campbell agrees to get rid of Basil’s corpse, which is a serious crime in itself. Why does Oscar Wilde not resolve this mystery? This case in isolation is not of too much consequence, but Wilde does not reveal what Dorian’s crimes are either. Certainly, there are hints of Dorian’s decadence, rumours that he “had been seen brawling with foreign sailors in a low den in the distant parts of Whitechapel, and that he consorted with thieves and coiners and knew the mysteries of their trade” (103). Nevertheless, details on Dorian’s crimes are vague. Past friends and acquaintances fall from their graces upon contact with Dorian; thus, to the townspeople, Dorian’s crime seems only to be the ability to spread misfortune and decadence like wildfire while maintaining his high social status.
It is blatant from the beginning of the novel that homoerotic energies permeate the story. Basil has always been intrigued, obsessed, and fascinated by the beautiful, perfect Dorian Gray. Nonetheless, Basil dies in Chapter XIII of The Picture of Dorian Gray – that is, he dies near the middle of the story. This death is premature, because the romantic relationship between Basil and Dorian is not explored even though it is apparent that just before he dies, Basil still feels love and tenderness towards his protege Dorian. Although Dorian does not seem to have any romantic interest in Basil, he does need Basil as a guardian angel until the end of the story. Dorian is akin to Faustus in Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus,” for he naively lusts after knowledge and sells his soul to Mephistopheles – Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray – to obtain this knowledge. In “Doctor Faustus,” the good angel is a recurring figure that stays with Faustus until near Faustus’ death, forever urging the Doctor to repent. Basil, however, is a shadowy figure and is not able to give Dorian good advice until the end of the story.