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With reference to Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and any other related source material, how successful is Oscar Wilde in creating a Gothic novel with The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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Introduction

With reference to Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher and any other related source material, how successful is Oscar Wilde in creating a Gothic novel with The Picture of Dorian Gray? By James Ravden The Gothic tradition has played a central role in creating architecture, poetry, literature, film and even art, such as Henry Fuselis' 1781 painting, "The Nightmare". Oscar Wilde borrowed heavily from the gothic tradition when creating his 1890s novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and in this essay I am going to be looking at certain gothic sections of Oscar Wildes' novel where he utilizes the fundamental aspects of the Gothic tradition. I will be looking into "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and how Wilde plays on the horror, the horrific, the suspense and the supernatural that all contribute to a Gothic mood. The term Gothic commands a vast semantic field of varied terrain; a range of meanings, definitions and associations. It is therefore very hard to define because it covers such a broad portfolio of different aspects. Historically the Goths were one of the several Germanic tribes who were one of the peoples who freed Europe from the clutches of the Roman Empire, culminating in its collapse in 476 AD. History itself has manipulated the term Gothic to be associated with the idea of freedom. ...read more.

Middle

The opium dens offer him this release from his memory which are depicted "like a horrible malady, [that] was eating his soul away6". This is proven by the fact that Dorian Gray flees to one of these dens, after murdering Basil Hallward; to presumably forget about the awfulness of his actions by losing conciseness in a drug induced languor. The dens located in the most derelict sites of London, maybe represent the squalid state of Dorian Gray's mind and the actual dens described with words as: "tattered...dulled...distorted...greasy...ochre-coloured saw dust...spilt liquor7", perhaps reflect his mortification of his soul. Drugs seem to give a new tempry freedom for Dorian to experience. Drugs seem to give a freedom which is what the Gothic represents in its entirety. One of the elements of the Gothic is the horrific and this is very vividly brought to life in "The Picture of Dorian Gray" where Sible Vane kills herself with prussic acid and also when Alan Campbell graphically destroys Basil Hallward body in Dorian's attic which is almost like Mary Shelley's Gothic novel, "Frankenstein" reversed. The main idea of a Gothic novel was the frightening and so in Wilde's novel this is used frequently. The use of far off lands terrifying to the Victorian audience, is a key effect, and one relating to the original idea of the Gothic, although the Victorian Gothic novel found little need for ruins, rugged landscapes and derelict castles, the new landscape was the city as a source for menace and the dark. ...read more.

Conclusion

This in itself is a very gothic idea living a life without consequences and letting the portrait bear the sins and this is exactly what Dorian did until his sins caught up with him. The Victorian era was very difficult to live in because of its rigid structured social hierarchy that allowed no "impurities" or non ethnical or righteous ideas. However the Gothic genre allowed you to do all these things and to explore irrational fantasies and social taboos. This is probably why Wilde liked the genre because being a homosexual he could not explore his own freedom in his own life but instead he possibly explored this through the homoerotic theme of novel. He managed to escape and explore another freedom through the gothic genre. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is not an entire gothic novel but a fair amount is and I think that with the gothic sections Wilde has successfully created a primo piece of Gothic literature. 1 The Picture of Dorian Gray, By Oscar Wilde, Published by Penguin. 2 Ibid 3 Ibid 4 Ibid 5 Ibid 6 The Picture of Dorian Gray, By Oscar Wilde, Published by Penguin. 7 Ibid 8 Ibid 9 The Picture of Dorian Gray, By Oscar Wilde, Published by Penguin. 10 Ibid 11 Ibid 12 Bram Stoker's Dracula, By Francis Ford Coppola, 1992. 13 The Picture of Dorian Gray, By Oscar Wilde, Published by Penguin. 14 Ibid ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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