Wide Reading Task Number 5 – The Picture of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde.

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” – Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, set in London in 1890, and is about a young and handsome man named Dorian Gray, who having promised his soul in order to live a life of perpetual youth, by making his bodily decay and dissipation be recorded on his painting rather than himself. The book is told in the third person, and the narrator is unknown to the reader. This book displays many well known gothic features such as: a gothic protagonist and, the presence of the supernatural. 

Dorian Gray personality traits are well used in the gothic world, Dorian has distinct contrasting qualities [he appears as a gentlemen in public, and then is indulging himself in unorthodox pleasures], is of a high social stature, he is often surrounded by devices the foreshadow something negative [the painting], driven by strong emotions rather than logic or reason [he is driven by his ambition to stay young forever], generally secretive or surrounded by an air of mystery [no one actually is under the gentlemen act], and has a “need to know” or curious nature [everyone knows all of his background and what he likes to show, but nobody really knows what he is like]. The character Dorian Gray is a very classic gothic protagonist, he displays all the well known traits of a gothic protagonist. 

The presence of the supernatural is within the painting. After Dorian curses the painting a sort of demonic presence takes over the painting, which we are lead to believe is Dorian Gray’s soul ageing, as the physical Dorian stays young forever. In most gothic films and novels the presence of the supernatural is a physical being such as, a vampire or a werewolf etc, but in The Picture of Dorian Gray, the presence of the supernatural is spiritual; and although we can see the effects of the supernatural we never see the physical embodiment of the supernatural, that what makes this novel different from the other gothic texts.

In conclusion The Picture of Dorian Gray has some very commonly used features with it’s own twits and turns for the gothic genre. I think it was a fantastic novel I think that was written really well. Wilde really let his imagination flourish but also kept the novel simple.   

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