In an earlier post, I analysed what features and characteristics have to be in a novel to make it ‘Gothic literature’. I am now going to pull apart pieces of ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’ that could create the assumption that it is a piece of Gothic literature.
- Sinister settings– Many settings in this novel are dark and gloomy, such as bad weather (mist, fog) or set at night time. There is also the setting of ‘The Secret Room’, and secrets are very popular in Gothic literature.
- Supernatural element- The picture itself is a good example of a supernatural element, as it changes with sin. Dorian’s morality also, as he now has ‘eternal youth’, which is extremely supernatural. The ending, however, is the most sinister of all..
- The Devil- When the portrait starts to alter, we start to believe that after Dorian wished the portrait will grow old and he will stay young, he had become in some sort of agreement with the Devil, and has sold his soul In my opinion, there are two characters in this novel that could be seen in a devilish light- one being Lord Henry. He is Dorian’s tempter, and completely corrupts him. The other character is Dorian himself, as he acts out sin- just like the Devil would. He also follows in Lord Henry’s footsteps and tempts two men: Adrian Singleton and Alan Campbell, and manages to change there lives forever- one resulting in death.
- Horror- The horror in this novel has to be death, but there are two kinds: murder and suicide. Dorian Gray murdered Basil Hallward in an act of madness, as if he was taken over by an evil spirit- like an exorcism. The suicides were carried out by Sybill Vane and Alan Campbell- both of which were acted out because of the same man- Dorian Gray- and his impact on their lives.
- Secrets- You cannot have Gothic literature without secrets, and ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’ is practically based on them. The first clear secret we have is that Basil, Lord Henry and Dorian are homosexuals, and although it is never clearly mentioned in the novel, we know it as a fact. There is also the ‘Secret Room’, and the portrait which has started to alter- which no one is allowed to see. Basil’s “disappearance” and murder is also very secretive too.
- Omens- Dorian mentions “omens” a few times at one particular time of this novel, and that was the accidental murder of the “mysterious man”. He sees this as a sign that “something bad is going to happen”, and possibly to himself. He knows that James Vane is out to murder him, and this could be the sign to say that his time is nearly up.
- Curses- Ancestral curses are very common in Gothic literature, and this novel also includes them. Dorian is cursed, as he sells his soul to the devil for eternal youth- which ends tragically.