Gothic Elements in A Picture of Dorian Grey

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The Picture of Dorian Gray came at a time when the golden age of Gothic Fiction was already well passed. However the novel is seen as a revival of the gothic genre. It also redefined the elements of a gothic novel. It lacked the lovelorn heroine/hero that novels like The Mysteries of Udolpho (Anne Radcliffe) and Dracula (Bram Stoker) thrived on. The only love that is epitomized in the novel is that of the self, which proved to be perhaps its most gothic aspect. However it does consist of many classic gothic elements. One of its most striking devices is the gothic atmosphere that surrounds the novel on instances such as when Dorian is taking Basil to the room where he hides the notorious painting and the light from the lantern causes shadows on the walls and the wind rattles the windows. Another instance is when Dorian tries to visit the opium den; “A cold rain began to fall, and the blurred street-lamps looked ghastly in the dripping mist. The public-houses were just closing, and dim men and women were clustering in broken groups round their doors. From some of the bars came the sound of a horrible laughter. In others drunkards brawled and screamed.” The unexplained supernatural is a regular theme in gothic novels and in A Picture of Dorian Gray, Dorian’s bargain with the devil and the magical effect of this on his portrait is the novels most important gothic element. In the first chapter when Henry manages to convince Dorian that beauty and youth is everything and that without these two things a man is worth nothing, Dorian’s subconsciously, in the pursuit of absolution says ‘I would give my soul’ . And for the next eighteen years his wish is fulfilled, not a hint of a crease marks his face. And yet the picture painted of him by his friend Basil, bears the signs of his aging and sinful deeds. And in the end when he finally tries to destroy the picture he
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