‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’- A Gothic Novella?

 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. 

‘Tragedy’, ‘Tragic’ and Gothic Literature

‘Tragedy’ and ‘Tragic’ 

Definition of tragedy: an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

Definition of tragic: causing or characterized by extreme distress or sorrow

Gothic Literature

The first piece of Gothic literature was believed to be ‘The Castle of Otranto’ by Horale Warpole in 1764. In the late 18th Century, Gothic literature started to become popular and by the 19th Century parodies of the genre appeared as the conventions were so widely used.  

Conventions: Gothic literature generally involves elements of horror and romance genres. They all have sinister settings, such as castles, dungeons, secret passages, winding staircases or haunted buildings. Their extreme landscapes involve rugged mountains, thick forests and generally bad weather. Without a doubt, they will include omens, ancestral curses and secrets. Many even have elements of the supernatural, and represent the stimulation of fear, horror and macabre.


  • Tyrants, villains, maniacs
  • Persecuted maidens, femme fatales, a madwoman
  • Ghosts, monsters, demons
  • Byronic heroes- These are mainly very intelligent, sophisticated, educated people, but struggle with emotional conflicts. They either have a ‘troubled past’ or ‘dark attributes’ 


  • Frankenstein
  • Wuthering Heights
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Dracula
  • Rebecca
  • The Stepford Wives
  • The Shining  



The Help and 1960’s Feminism

Faith Baker

Just an article that I found whilst reading through different interpretations on ‘The Help’. It looks at the novel from a very interesting position! I found the article here: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminismandpopculture/a/The-Help-and-Feminism.htm

The Help is set in Mississippi during the early 1960s, when the groundswell of feminism’s “second wave” was still building. Kathryn Stockett’s novel revolves around events in 1962-1963, before thewomen’s liberation movement, before Betty Friedan and other feminist leaders founded the National Organization for Women, before the media invented the myth of bra-burning. Although The Help is an imperfect depiction of the 1960s and the author stifles the budding feminism of some of her characters, the novel does touch on many issues that were relevant to 1960s feminism. Here’s a look at some of those feminist issues that are worth exploring after you finish reading The Help.

  • Skeeter’s Rebelliousness/Independence
    A hint of feminism in 

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The Difference Between GCSE and A-Level

When it comes to writing essays, I am the worst for not using complex language or sentences. This is mainly because I’m not good with ‘big words’, shall we say. To pass my exams I do need to ‘up my vocabulary’ and increase my knowledge in areas such as this. 

An example I look at to help me write certain essays is this: 

GCSE: “She calls the personas (point) “Exhibit A… Exhibit B…”(example). This makes them sound like objects (explain).

A-Level: “She calls the personas (point) “Exhibit A… Exhibit B…”(example). Making the women sound like objects angers the reader, because of the inhumanity (explain).

This may be an over-exaggerated example, but it shows just how differently the language has to be compared to GCSE level. 

Another word I used a lot in GCSE would have been ‘uses’, as in “Margaret Atwood uses…”. Instead of using this simple language, I try and use more of a higher vocabulary, such as “Maragaret Atwood…”

  • de-picks..
  • suggests..
  • creates the image of…
  • describes…

I know these are simple things to remember and you all probably do these already, but these are just a few notes I use to help me write a structured essay.

Hope they’ve helped! 🙂 


When using quotations, use should always stick to a five-step procedure: 

  1. Firstly, state your quote: “School dinners are detrimental to children’s health”
  2. Secondly, you should mention your position of this quotation: “.. It has been said because of the apparent amount of chips obesity has risen…”;
  3. Thirdly, you should argue for the counter-side: “On the other hand, with an increase in poverty children are bringing cheap school lunches into school which include various junk food, school lunches are the only ‘healthy option’ they have”;
  4. You then have to remind the reader of your position: ..But there is a lack of variety in school dinners today that the children have no other choice but to bring in their own dinners”
  5. Lastly, you have to point out any ‘star points’, and finally conclude.

Remember to always alternate the words that are in bold with things such as:

  • Whilst it could be argued.. 
  • One the one hand.. 
  • However.. 
  • Also.. 
  • Etc., Etc. 

Hope this helped 🙂 

Half-Hanged Mary

Most will have only one death. I will have two.


This poem is a ballad, about a local infamous hero, Mary Webster, who was hung for the crime of witchcraft. At the time when the poem was set, people were obsessed with the thought of ‘witchcraft’ and had hatred for the independent female, claiming them to be witches. Miraculously, she did not die and survived until the morning where they found her alive. She could not be hung again as it was against the law to punish someone for the same crime twice. The poem is first person narrivite, in which Mary is reflecting on her memories of the incident, and is divided into time-slots throughout the night. 

7:00 pm: In this section, Mary tells us what she was doing at the time the decision was made to kill her. She says: “I didn’t feel the aimed word hit” and compares it to a soft bullet going into her, showing the pain it caused her. 

She then goes on to tell us the reason why she was hung, with a tone of bitterness and sarcasm. She lists some mundane details about herself including her blue eyes, and her sunburned skin. She then adds “Oh yes, and breasts, and a sweet pear hidden in my body.” Atwood uses sarcasm to suggest that the real crime Mary has committed is being a woman.

8:00 p.m: In this section, Mary describes how she is hung from a tree with her hands tied and a rag in her mouth. She also describes the men going back home “excited by their show of hate”. This creates an image that the men are doing this for pleasure. 

9:00 p.m: At nine, the women of the town come to see Mary. Many used to be her friends, but are now clearly terrified. Partly they are afraid of her powers, but what they are truly afraid of is their similarity to Mary. They want to hate Mary because they want to believe that they are different from her, that it couldn’t be them in her position. Evidently this is Mary’s opinion as well; she says “Help me down? You don’t dare. I might rub off on you, like soot or gossip.”

10:00 p.m:  Mary is beginning to feel philosophical and speaks to God. She feels abandoned and lonely and is starting to lose faith. She thinks about free will, asking God if it was her choice to be in her current predicament and what part of his design the rope from which she hangs is. She does not question the existence of God, but rather his benevolence. She is aware of his indifference, saying “Faith, Charity, and Hope are three dead angels falling like meteors or burning owls across the profound blank sky of Your face.”

Midnight: She is despairing and feels death is upon her. She personifies death three times: Once, as a crow sitting on her shoulder, that waits for her to give in and become food; Second, as a judge, a figure that bears sinister connotations to Mary, who describes him as “muttering about sluts and punishment and licking his lips”; Third, as a dark angel, who attempts to tempt her to give in and stop suffering. However, she refuses.

2:00 a.m: Here, she has more bitter thoughts directed at God. She thinks about prayer, comparing it to the strangulation that she is enduring. She thinks that the one true prayer, as opposed to “the knees in the clean nightgown on the hooked rug. I want this, I want that.”, is the prayer for mercy.

3:00 a.m: This hour of her torment is a very significant section of the poem. One thing that stands out about it is the different way it is written. Whereas the other sections are made up of multiple stanzas varying in length, this one is a single stanza that is much longer than the others and has no punctuation, which has a profound effect on its voice. This stanza is written in the stream of consciousness form. If punctuation were inserted the stanza would be made up of many very short sentences that are all referring to what she sees and feels in the moment. This stanza speaks her despair and eventually her defiance. She refers again to her crime, saying “I did no crime I was born I have borne I bear I will be born this is a crime I will not acknowledge” by which she means that she will not acknowledge the crime of existing. The section ends with “I will not give in”.

6:00 a.m.: As the sun rises she says that it is “no longer a simile for god”. She has been changed by the experience. She is empty. She says “I would like to say my hair turned white overnight, but it didn’t. Instead it was my heart; bleached out like meat in water.” Though she is still alive in the morning, she has died inside and has became a completely different person. However, she is keenly aware of the difference between being reborn and living through death.

8:00 a.m.: in the morning her body is retrieved and the townsfolk are surprised to find her alive but in accordance with the law are unable to do anything. The people are afraid of her, but once again there is another side to their fear; when they see her “they see their own ill will staring them in the forehead”.

Later: This section describes Mary’s life after the ordeal. Dying has changed her to the point where she is hardly even human. She appears to have gone insane and yet also seems to have transcended into a higher plane of understanding, speaking profound nonsense like “holiness gleams on my dirty fingers, I eat flowers and dung”. 


What is Feminism?

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.” 
― Brigham YoungImage

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.

Feminist theory, which emerged from these feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women’s social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender. Some of the earlier forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated perspectives. This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of feminism.

Feminist activists campaign for women’s rights – such as in contract law, property, and voting – while also promoting bodily integrity, autonomy, andreproductive rights for women. Feminist campaigns have changed societies, particularly in the West, by achieving women’s suffrage, gender neutrality in English, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property. Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms ofdiscrimination against women. Feminism is mainly focused on women’s issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, the author bell hooks and other feminists have argued that men’s liberation is a necessary part of feminism and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.