The story is set in London, where the well-known artist Basil Hallward becomes obsessed with the beauty of a young gentleman, Dorian Gray. He paints Dorian's portrait, and introduces him to Lord Henry Wotton, a clever. Dorian, much taken with Lord Henry's ideas, looks at his beautiful portrait and wishes impulsively that its image would grow old, while he remains ever young.
But he doesn’t know that his desire would have become real.
Meanwhile Dorian has fallen in love with Sibyl Vane, a young actress who performs in a theatre in London. She loves act, but caught up in her love for Dorian, Sibyl loses her ability to act, and his love for her vanishes. So he spurns her cruelly; and that night, he looks at his portrait and notices that a smile has appeared on the face: a touch of cruelty had change the picture. He is frightened, but the following afternoon, Lord Henry brings the news that she has killed herself. Under Lord Henry's influence, Dorian decides to put the matter behind him. Meanwhile, he hides the painting in a room, which he keeps locked.
Eighteen years pass, and Dorian spends a life of corruption and crimes, while his face and his body don’t change, he remains young and handsome, while the painting grows ever more wicked, cruel and evil. Finally, he commits his greatest crime: he murders Basil Hallward, and blackmails one of his friends into helping him dispose of the body.
The night after the murder, Dorian makes his way to an opium den, where he meets James Vane, Sibyl’s brother, who tries to avenge his sister's death by killing him. Dorian escapes, and goes to his country estate to host a party, but he sees James Vane's face at a window, and is wracked by fear and guilt. However, a hunting party accidentally shoots and kills Vane. Dorian, feeling safe again, resolves to amend his life, but cannot muster the courage to confess his crimes, and the painting reveals his crimes. Dorian tries to stab the painting. There is a crash, and his servants enter to find the portrait, unharmed, showing Dorian Gray as a beautiful young man. And on the floor is the body of their master: an old man, horribly wrinkled and disfigured, with a knife plunged into his heart.