"Even in the final book version, Wilde refuses to moralize, to tell the artist what to do or the reader what to think. Each individual must devise his own ethical code. When Wilde wrote that all excess as well as all renunciation brings its punishment, he evidently had in mind the contrast between Basil, who can conceive of his love for Dorian only in abstract terms, and Dorian, who is so intent on embracing the physical that he loses his mind. Both men meet bad ends. Lord Henry, by contrast, emerges unscathed, his talk naughtier than his walk. Indeed, Basil accuses him of being secretly virtuous: “You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing.” Lord Henry espouses a peculiarly contemporary kind of moderation, indulging his brain but not his body, employing Dorian as a proxy hedonist. (Today, Lord Henry might spend a lot of time on the Internet.) There is something sad about him, for, unlike Basil and Dorian, he fails to commit himself. His life is vicarious."
New Yorker on The Picture of Dorian Gray