Language Devices and Themes in Yeats

I’ve been instructed by my teacher to break the poems down into lines (using Excel Spreadsheet) and labelling them with the technique used so that I can then identify the main themes in each poem. I thought I would record them here as they are useful!

Among School Children

  • Comparative Language (Comparing ‘present day Gonne’ to ‘child Gonne’ and Mothers with Nuns)
  • Questioning Language (Questioning the point of life – specifically through childbirth etc)
  • Mythical Imagery (‘Ledaean body’ etc, referring to Maud Gonne but still creating images)
  • Language of Unity (How can we know the dancer from the dance?’)

An Irish Airman Foresees his Death

  • Patriotic Language (Not interested in the war, “Those that I fight I do not hate” – he is only interested in his own country, “My country is Kiltartan Cross,”)
  • Language of Choice (Chose to fight, he “balanced all”)

Broken Dreams

  • Romantic Language (again referring to Maud Gonne)
  • Repetition (to emphasise his “Vague memories” being “nothing but” that)
  • Language of Aging (“old gaffer”)
  • References to Gyres (Yeats hoping for a new start “all, shall be renewed”)

Easter 1916

  • Criticism of Society (“polite meaningless words” given to the complacent Irish)
  • Repetition (“A terrible beauty is born”)
  • Specific references to people’s lives and events (“MacDonagh and MacBride And Connolly and Pearse”)
  • Metaphors (The “horse-hoof” sliding on the brim representing trouble starting etc, the “stone” troubling the “living stream” of Ireland)

In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markiewicz

  • Imagery (Grotesque “skeleton gaunt”, Grandiose “Great Windows” “silk kimonos”)
  • Metaphors (“raving autumn shears” representing the physical changes of aging; “strike a match” representing a new start, change and idea of Gyres)
  • Repetition  (“Two girls in silk kimonos”, emphasising topic)
  • Language of Change, (“strike a match” representing ideas of revolution)

Leda and the Swan

  • Language of Power (Representing Swan “great wings” “dark webs”)
  • Language of Weakness (Representing Leda “helpless” “terrified”)
  • Strong Imagery (“strange heart beating” – imagery showing the oddness of the situation)

Man and The Echo

  • Critical Language towards Society (Yeats disapproving of “Wine or love” drugging people)
  • Repetition (Echo repeating Man to show how words can be misinterpreted)
  • Rhetorical Questions (“Shall we in that great night rejoice?” Whole poem questioning his life and life in general)
  • Distracted language (“And its cry distracts my thoughts” ends poem on odd note)

Sailing to Byzantium

  • Pastoral Imagery (First section, land of mortal men, “dying generations” “salmon falls”)
  • Grandiose Imagery (Land of immortal art “gold” “Monuments”)
  • Juxtapositions (Mix of different views, Religious “holy fire” in same sentence as the occult beliefs of “gyre”s – almost a mix of both to show doubt)

September 1913

  • Imagery (“fumble in a greasy till” – vivid images)
  • References to Historical Events (“For this Edward FitzGerald died”)
  • Criticism of Society (Disgust at the new Ireland)
  • Repetition (“Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone”)

The Cat and the Moon

  • Language of Change (Idea of gyres and the idea that Yeats wants to change his and Gonne’s relationship – “changing eyes”)
  • Rhetorical Questions (“do you dance?”)
  • Metaphor (“dance” representing a courtship between Gonne and Yeats, the Cat and Moon being metaphors for them)

The Cold Heaven

  • Oxymorons (“ice burned” – idea of two opposites coming together like him and Gonne)
  • Reminiscent language (“Vanished, and left but memories” – his relationship with Gonne never started, just ideas)
  • Sexual language (Representing the sexual relationship he wishes to have with Gonne, “Ah!” “To and fro”)
  • Rhetorical question (Questioning religion “as the books say”)

The Fisherman

  • Pastoral Imagery (“freckled man” – idealistic readers)
  • View of society (Critical imagery, the contrast, “living men that I hate”)

The Second Coming

  • Language of Chaos (represents the apocalyptic ideas, “Mere anarchy”)
  • Religious References (“Surely some revelation is at hand;”)
  • Rhetorical Questions (Questions religion, almost blasphemy, “Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”)

The Stolen Child

  • Repetition (Tries to emphasise the faeries point of view that they’re helping the child escape the “weeping”
  • Mythical imagery and fantasy style language (Shows the ethereal nature – “faery vats” “reddest stolen cherries”)
  • Pastoral imagery (“oatmeal chest” represents the warm home he’s leaving)

Wild Swans At Coole

  • Language of Change (“Twilight” “Autumn” shows the changes since he was last there)
  • Cold Pastoral imagery (Nature, “Mirrors a still sky;”)
  • Lonely language (“nine-and-fifty swans” emphasises that one is alone, “my heart is sore” – Yeats is old and lonely)
  • Onomatopeia (Shows power of swans, “bell-beat”)

Thanks for reading,


The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 8 – 12

Notes and Analysis for the chapters 8-12

Chapter 8

  • Chapter begins with the idea of dandyism, Dorian waking “long past noon” showing his lax attitude, not having anything to do.
  • Calling the valet by his first name “Victor” shows the familiarity Dorian has with him.
  • Consistent detail throughout the novel, especially in regards to the possessions of the upper classes as Wilde had familiarity with these things, “olive satin curtains, with their shimmering blue lining”
  • Significance of putting Lord Henry’s letter “aside”, if he had read it he would have known of Sibyl’s suicide
  • “Unnecessary things are our only necessities”, shows the extravagance of the upper classes
  • “silk embroidered cashmere wool” showing the richness and pomposity of Dorian,
  • “Surely a painted canvas could not alter?” – Dorian’s doubt is a doubting of religion and the supernatural, wanting to trust the new ideas of science
  • “He was afraid of certainty” – a very philosophical viewpoint
  • “As he often remembered afterwards,” – this gives the passage a feeling of reflection, looking back on Dorian’s life, gives the narrator an almost omniscient presence, knowing the past and future.
  • Dorian looks at the altered portrait with “scientific interest”, links to the scientific ideas in ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’
  • “She could still be his wife” – Dorian still thinks that the change is due to his dismissal yet the portrait (like the narrator) is omniscient, it knows that Sibyl is dead.
  • Dorian believes that this portrait would guide him “through life”, the fear of a change in the portrait would be like the “fear of God to us all” – he’s almost idolising the portrait, showing deep blasphemy. He thinks seeing a physical change will be more powerful than the fear of hell that is viewed in the Bible
  • He lurches from one emotion to the other – “wrote a passionate letter to the girl he had loved”
  • When Lord Henry thinks that Dorian would be upset he is only worried that he would tear that “nice curly hair” he possesses – very superficial.
  • “I can’t bear the idea of my soul being hideous” – he now has the physical manifestation of his ugly soul, the portrait
  • The fact that Lord Henry sent the letter by his “own man” shows the urgency of the situation
  • “I was afraid there might be something in it I wouldn’t like” – irony as he wouldn’t like the idea of Sibyl’s death.
  •   Lord Henry is very parental when breaking the news to Dorian, “took both of his hands in his own”
  • “Things like that make a man fashionable in Paris” – shows the loose morals of society
  • Sibyl was obviously desperate as she’d swallowed something in her “dressing-room”
  • Lord Henry quickly changes the subject and suggests that they go to “the Opera” as it’s a “Patti night”, a very shallow way to react to a death
  • “If you had married this girl you would have been wretched” – Lord Henry has a very pessimistic and cynical view on marraige
  • “I must sow poppies in my garden” – Dorian is mourning and this shows that he has some level of conscience at this point, is moral
  • Lord Henry still has very dismissive views on women – “They have wonderfully primitive instincts”
  • Lord Henry could see that Sibyl Vane had no personality of her own, “don’t waste your tears over Sibyl Vane. She was less real than they are.” Lord Henry suggests that Dorian remembers her as her parts, and celebrate her through the theatre
  • Dorian is concerned that he may become “haggard, and old, and wrinkled” showing his growing vanity
  • Dorian views Sibyl’s death almost as a romantic thing, “She had often mimicked death on the stage.”
  • “This portrait would be  to him the most magical of mirrors”, believes that his soul will be revealed
  • At the end of the chapter he doesn’t care what happens to the “coloured image on the canvas” as he would be safe from public judgement, however immoral he was.

Chapter 9

  • Basil was worried that Dorian might kill himself too, almost like ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – “half afraid that one tragedy might have been followed by another”
  • “Did you go down and see the girl’s mother?” – Basil is very feminine and matriarchal towards Dorian, very moral and almost priestly
  • “as Harry says” Lord Henry’ opinions are slowly coming into Dorian’s mind
  • Dorian quickly changes the subject from Sibyl, “tell me about yourself and what you are painting”, shows that he is cold and hard-headed
  • “Something has changed you completely” – this ironic as it is Basil’s painting that has done exactly that, yet he thinks that it’s “Harry’s influence”
  • “You only taught me to be vain” – this isn’t entirely true, Lord Henry taught him to be vain and the portrait that Basil painted helped reinforce this
  • Dorian is adamant that Sibyl’s suicide (however shocked Basil may be “How fearful”) is one of the “great romantic tragedies”, and then talks about art and the significance of beauty (sounding very like Lord Henry) “I love beautiful things” sounds very shallow and cold
  • Basil wishes to exhibit the portrait and Dorian is very certain that this should never happen, we can see how manipulative he has become (similar to Lord Henry) especially in this quote “if you touch this screen, everything is over between us”
  • Basil explains how his thoughts have been dominated by Dorian and Dorian then wonders whether he would ever be”dominated by the personality of a friend” which seems ironic as his thoughts and ideas have been heavily dominated by Lord Henry’s points of view
  • Basil is referred to as “the painter” again at the end of this chapter, showing his insignificance in Dorian’s eyes
  • Dorian says he would sooner go to Basil if he were in trouble, most likely as he know he can manipulate him
  • Dorian realises that the “portrait must be hidden away” – almost trying to hide his own sins.

Chapter 10

  • Dorian is paranoid about his servant at the beginning of this chapter as he feels that his servant knows what’s going on, “It seemed to him that as the man left the room his eyes wandered in the direction of the screen. Or was that merely his own fancy?”
  • The fabric he uses to cover the painting is a “purple satin coverlet”, purple is the colour of easter in the Catholic Church and thus this could repesent a rebirth, Dorian feels safer with the painting hidden away. It was maybe used as a “pall for the dead” and now it was to be used to wrap the sins of Dorian’s soul.
  • Dorian instructs Lord Henry that “they were to meet at eight-fifteen that evening.” – this shows the control that Dorian now has over Lord Henry
  • The painting is to be sealed in the room where Dorian grew up, and the room is full of childish memories of Dorian’s past and old toys – it’s odd that his immorality and corruption was stored in a place of purity and innocence.
  • Dorian’s interior monologue about the changes that would happen to the portrait are reminiscent of Lord Henry’s grotesque speeches about aging – “The cheeks would become hollow or flaccid”
  • When Dorian finds the article about Sibyl’s death he once again becomes paranoid about his servant and is worried that “he had read it and had begun to suspect something”. Dorian then has to reassure himself, oddly by referring to himself in the third person “Dorian Gray had not killed her.”
  • The little yellow book was “À Rebours” – a novel concentrating on the pursuit of pleasure. Dorian’s thoughts on the book echo the type of writing, he says that the writing was “jewelled” and then talks about the book in an embellished way, such as the metaphors as being like “orchids” and that the “heavy odour of incense seemed to cling about its pages”

Chapter 11

  • Dorian spends many years becoming more and more corrupt, he buys “nine large-paper copies of the first edition” of the yellow book and he had them bound in different colours to suit his “various moods”. This shows his extravagance and obsession with this book.
  • Idea of gothic and supernatural influences in the similarities between the protagonist of the book and Dorian himself  “the whole book seemed to him to contain the story of his own life, written before he had lived it”
  • “Men who talked grossly became silent when Dorian Gray entered the room. There was something in the purity of his face” – this shows how people are deceived by looks and how they put a lot of stake on beauty. Also shows how Dorian’s immorality has gona unnoticed.
  • Dorian obviously enjoyed examining the changes and viewing his evil state – “He would examine with minute care, and sometimes with a monstrous and terrible delight, the hideous lines that seared the wrinkled forehead”. Aging frightened him, yet he enjoyed watching it happen to his alter-ego in the portrait.
  • The double standards of the time are displayed in Dorian’s trip to the “sordid” rooms near the “Docks” where he led a double life “under an assumed name”. Many people did this to pretend to be poor and see how people reacted.
  • The descriptions of Dorian’s doings shows that he seems to be at the heart of Victorian society, he could have been a great influence for good – yet he chose evil.
  • Dorian has parallels with Wilde – that he was rumoured to join the “Roman Catholic Communion” – yet Dorian only liked religion for its flamboyant ritualistic ideas.
  • The passages that follow show Dorian’s total self indulgence in researching, studying and doing anything he pleases.
  • Dorian doesn’t want to be too far from the picture, and gives up the villa that he owns with Lord Henry (he seems to be getting too close to him now and needs space – they spent the winter together in the villa “more than once”).
  • There are lots of scandalous rumours going around about Dorian, he was “nearly blackballed at a West End Club” and “curious stories” abounded. This shows how despite his outward innocent facade people didn’t trust him.
  • The end of the chapter admits the truth: “Dorian Gray had been poisoned by a book” – showing the simple facts of his corruption.

Chapter 12

  • The setting is very conventional of gothic literature – “cold and foggy”
  • When Basil reveals that the most “dreadful things are being said” about Dorian, yet Dorian isn’t interested about scandals about himself as they don’t have the “charm of novelty”.
  • Basil’s views seem to be the opposite of Lord Henry’s – “position and wealth are not everything”, and his comment “Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face” is very ironic as it would be all over Dorian’s face if it were not for the portrait.
  • Basil later says “to see your soul. But only God can do that.” This is ironic as he caused Dorian to see his own soul, Basil himself is about to see the painting again that caused Dorian’s downfall.
  • Dorian goads Basil and plays God, telling him that he can show him his soul, “You shall see the thing that you fancy only God can see.” – Basil, being very moral, is very shocked at this “blasphemy” as it’s “horrible”
  • Dorian enjoys teasing Basil and tells him to “come upstairs” to see his “diary” – obviously his painting. He has a “curl of contempt in his lips” – almost the opposite of Basil’s trait of biting his lip

Thanks for reading


Conventions of Gothic Literature (Boo!)

Gothic Literature has many stereotypes and conventions which help establish story-lines and ideas (it also helps when people want to parody horror stories near Halloween!). Most of the stereotypes seen in modern cartoons such as Scooby Doo are actually original conventions of Gothic Literature. Here are some examples:

  • An abnormal and frightening location, usually old and remote from civilisation: castles, dungeons, crypts, abandoned/haunted house/mansion, secret corridors, hidden rooms, tombs etc.
  • Uncomfortable terrain: rugged mountains, dark forests, etc.
  • Use of weather to intrigue, dark places, mist to obscure, storms and rain, lightning (often coincides with an important event or provides power for something to happen) etc.
  • An unexpected yet well equipped hero, educated and brave yet has a fatal flaw, a troubled past or dark secret, often byronic
  • A damsel in distress, femme fatale, trapped woman that needs to be saved
  • Ghosts, spirits, demons or other supernatural beings
  • An antagonist: maniac, villain, monster etc.
  • Outsiders, people coming into a strange place and finding the horrors within (For example the Mystery Machine turning up at a Haunted House!)
  • Dreams (helps form ideas about supernatural)
  • Revenge is often the reason for the antagonist’s/protagonist’s plan
  • A scientific tone when observing the supernatural (observed often in ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’)
  • Forbidden knowledge or power
  • Strong moral closure at the end of the piece
  • Bad omens, ancestral curses and prophecies

Thanks for reading!


The Picture of Dorian Gray Chapters 3 -7

Chapter 3

  • “genial” “rough-mannered old bachelor” – description of Lord Fermor. This character shows the unnecessary extravagance of the upper classes “He had two large town houses, but preferred to live in chambers”, and the hypocrisy, “he was a Tory, except when the Tories were in office.”
  • Money seems like everything, yet Lord Henry suggests that when people grow older they know that. Shows the typical upper class attitude towards money.
  • Lots of background information on Dorian. His mother was Lady Margaret Devereux, a very beautiful woman who ran off with a “penniless young fellow, a mere nobody”. This accounts for Dorian’s beauty and maybe even the root of his bitterness later on in the novel, no parental figures to guide him as his mother died within a year and his father died in a “duel at Spa”. Margaret described as one of the “loveliest creatures” – similar to how Sibyl is described later on in the book.
  • Dorian is described as Lady Agatha’s latest protege, yet he is also Lord Henry’s protege, his muse.
  • Lord Henry decides to corrupt Dorian, although he has been doing so already: “Yes; he would try to be to Dorian Gray what, without knowing it, the lad was to the painter”, “He would seek to dominate him”. Shows Lord Henry’s aims, which succeed but to a much heavier extent than Lord Henry had imagined
  • Lots of discussion about America, time when many men moved to America, people are curious. It was “rather fashionable to marry Americans” and most of the upper classes at Aunt Agatha’s seem discreetly racist: “why can’t they stay in their own country?”
  • “I wished you would tell me how to become young again” – great irony as it is due to Lord Henry that Dorian will always seem young. He tells the Duchess to “repeat” her “follies” to get youth, also ironic as this seems to be exactly what Dorian does, doing evil.
  • “Of all people in the world the English have the least sense of the beauty of literature” – a slight comment, maybe retaliating to the many English critics of the novel or even pre-empting the uproar the book would cause.
  • “I would sooner come with you” Dorian is now Lord Henry’s – he is infatuated and would rather see him than Basil
  • “All I want now is to look at life” Lord Henry invites Dorian into his own life, and wishes to view Dorian who has become his new life to play with and influence.

Chapter 4

  • “Dorian Gray was reclining” – obviously comfortable in Lord Henry’s house
  • “olive-stained oak” “satinwood table” a Parisian and aesthetic description, linking to nature. Shows the fashionable tastes of Lord Henry.
  • “It is only his wife.” – She knows her place, she is second best to Lord Henry’s lovers and friends.
  • The fact that Lord Henry owns 18 photos of Dorian shows his obsession, as in those days photographs were very expensive and would have to be done professionally,
  • “She was usually in love with somebody” shows that she is not in love with Lord Henry, the marriage between them is almost like a business contract.
  • “thin lips” – the language used gives imagery of delicacy and weakness, “tortoiseshell paper-knife”
  • “If one hears bad music, it is one’s duty to drown it in conversation” a view of Lord Henry’s – he is influenced. Lady Henry realises this and says that she only hears he husbands opinions through his friends, this shows the lack of communication and love between them.
  • “Perhaps it is that they are foreigners” – Lady Henry likes foreigners, opposite view to Lord Henry and the aristocracy in the previous chapter,
  • Lady Henry seems easily impressed and produces meaningless statements: “Makes it quite cosmopolitan”
  • “looking like a bird of paradise that had been out all night in the rain” a dour image, negative, shows how she used to be beautiful but age has had an effect.
  • “Women are a decorative sex” a typical view of an aristocratic male
  • “Ah! Harry, your views terrify me” – irony as at the end Dorian terrifies Lord Henry with how he has changed.
  • “I should think The Idiot Boy, or Dumb but Innocent” very snobbish, as if a good play could not be shown in a shabby place with a “hideous Jew” at the door.
  • “This play was good enough for us” – Dorian separates the upper classes from the lower classes, as if they are better and only deserve to see classic plays
  • “with a little flower-like face, a small Greek head with plaited coils of dark brown hair” – a description not dissimilar to the description of Dorian at the beginning of the book. “There is something of a child about her”
  • Dorian’s love of Sibyl is very similar to Basil’s love of Dorian at the beginning of the book, “I wish I had not told you about Sibyl Vane”, “Sibyl Vane is sacred!” Dorian needs to see Sibyl in a play every day, even if only for “one act” rather similar to how Basil has to see Dorian daily.
  • We see why Dorian gets away with hideous crimes, because people like Dorian, “the wilful sunbeams of life – don’t commit crimes”.
  • “I must call you Prince Charming” – very infantile, childish, fanatical love, almost a fantasy, still living in one of her plays
  • “Tonight she is Imogen” – mainly talks about her in terms of a character, not in terms of Sibyl
  • “Then we must get her out of the Jew’s hands” – talks as if he is to be her saviour, saving her from the “hideous Jew” and the decrepit theatre
  • “Good artists exist simply in what they make,” seems to insinuate that Wilde exists simply in the book, almost autobiographical. These good artists are “consequently perfectly uninteresting” from Lord Henry’s view – showing his attitude towards Basil
  • “Imogen is waiting for me.” – notice that it’s not Sibyl.
  • “It made him a more interesting study” – this makes it seem as if Dorian is but a scientific experiment and that Sibyl is only a new factor that may lead to new developments
  • “One could never pay too high a price for any sensation.” – a dangerous statement that could cause a man’s downfall into immorality
  • “reminded him it was time to dress for dinner” – very much in keeping with the idea of aristocracy and extravagance
  • “The panes glowed like plates of heated metal. The sky above was like a faded rose.” – the description of the outside gives the image of danger, fire and sexuality, linking to the major themes in the novel
  • “engaged to be married to Sibyl Vane” – Dorian tells Lord Henry first, trusts him (like Basil did when he let him dine with Dorian). Dorian is engaged to marry Sibyl, not Imogen or Juliet, she is referred to by her real name.

Chapter 5

  • “sitting in the one armchair that their dingy sitting-room contained” – detail of the homes of the lower classes are lacking, probably due to the fact that Wilde literally didn’t know the conditions they lived in, and thus made assumptions, “The flies buzzed around the table, and crawled over the stained cloth”
  • ” ‘I am so happy!’ she repeated, ‘and you must be happy too!’ ” Sibyl has a very childlike view on life and happiness, very dreamy, she “pouts” when she doesn’t understand, an infantile mannerism. Later on – “Her little feet pattered” – constantly referred to as a child.
  • “thin bismuth-whitened hands” gives a negative portrayal of the lower classes, not eating much, not cleaning the stage make up off of themselves etc
  • “Prince Charming rules life for us now” – shows her infatuation with Dorian, he has complete manipulative control of her now.
  • “though I feel so much beneath him” – even she knows that in social respects she is not worthy to be married to him,
  • “But it only pains you because you loved him so much” – innocent and naivety, she doesn’t think there could be any other reason for her mother to not wish to speak of Sibyl’s father, couldn’t imagine any dark secrets.
  • “thick-set of figure,” “clumsy” – negative and uneducated portrayal of James Vane, almost seems like an animal, his description doesn’t seem to connect with his caring and protective personality.
  • “She mentally elevated her son to the dignity of an audience” – all that Mrs Vane thinks about is the stage and theatre, which is shown through Wilde constantly referring to her and her thoughts using theatrical terms
  • “horrid London” – he doesn’t want to live there anymore, he looks forward to a new and prosperous future
  • “Only swell people go to the Park” – the Park is a place that he upper classes go to ‘be seen’, and so James thinks that he is too “shabby” to go, as he isn’t dressed in finery
  • “Don’t let her come to any harm.” James is very sensible, can see what might happen, he is very protective.
  • Mrs Vane is only concerned with who he is, as he’s “probably a member of the aristocracy” – and all she wants is to make an appropriate match for Sibyl, especially for financial reasons.
  • “James Vane bit his lip. ‘Watch over Sibyl mother,’ ” he repeats his warning, and seems very like Basil. James bites his lip, something that Basil does many times, and he warns Mrs Vane about trouble that may come, like Basil warns Dorian about the troubles that may come if he lets Lord Henry influence him. Both James and Basil are right.
  • “This young dandy who was making love to her could mean her no good” – James realises exactly what Dorian is like.
  • “Someday you will meet him” – irony as he does meet him when he returns, to attempt to murder him.
  • “He wants to enslave you.” Is this an interpretation of what marriage is for women?
  • “Someday you will be in love yourself” Sibyl treats this like a new character in a play
  • “I shall kill him.” This threat is almost like the second oath sworn, Dorian swears that he’d give his soul to be young forever and James swears that he will kill Dorian if he ever does wrong to Sibyl. In both cases the scenario comes true, Dorian gets his youth and also does wrong to Sibyl, but James gets the chance to kill Dorian but doesn’t as he has never seen him.
  • “kill him like  dog” – uses very dramatic language, the most dramatic out of all the family which is ironic as he is the only one who doesn’t take part in the theatre, he hates that his sister and mother have to be in plays.

Chapter 6

  • “I suppose you have heard the news, Basil?” Lord Henry breaks the news to Basil, showing a shift in relations, Dorian trusts Lord Henry more. Lord Henry telling Basil could be a form of mockery.
  • “I have a distinct remembrance of being married” – dismisses marriage, it is a mechanical activity, expecting to marry
  • “If you want to make him marry this girl tell him that,” Lord Henry seems to be very accurate in psychology.
  • “I don’t want to see Dorian tied to some vile creature,” – ironic as Dorian becomes the vile creature in the end
  • “she is beautiful” Lord Henry only sees the surface
  • “Your portrait of him has quickened his appreciation of the personal appearances of other people.” – here Lord Henry seems to blame Basil for Dorian’s change
  • “silly infatuation” treats Dorian like a child.
  • “They are forced to have more than one life” – Lord Henry has a life with his wife, lover, friends, aristocrats, business partners etc,
  • “You don’t mean a single word of that, Harry;” Basil and Lord Henry act like parents to Dorian, Basil always thinks highly of Lord Henry, and is very protective and maternal towards Dorian.
  • “the one thing I’ve been looking for all my life” – Dorian has probably been looking for companionship for most of his life as he had no parent figures, no initial companionship
  • “You let Harry know” Basil gently chides Dorian for not telling him.
  • Sibyl described similarly to Dorian once again, using nature, giving the ideas about the aesthetic movement: “moss-coloured velvet”, “cinnamon sleeves”
  • “kissed Juliet on the mouth” – still refers to Sibyl as character.
  • Dorian has a romantic view of marriage, it is not a “business transaction”.
  • “His nature is too fine for that” – sheer admiration of Dorian, yet irony as his nature isn’t fine at all!
  • “But then the middles classes are not modern.” – a typical upper class view of a lower class
  • “I cannot understand how anyone can wish to shame the thing he loves” irony as Dorian shames Sybil, the reason he does so is the change in him due to Lord Henry, instigated by his “wrong, fascinating, poisonous, delightful theories.”
  • “Beautiful sins” are the “privilege of the rich” – immoral view on how actions work, seems to think that because he is rich he can be immoral.
  • “I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit” another interesting statement as Lord Henry is the reason the painting becomes a representation of all the sins that Dorian does commit
  • “Still, your wonderful girl may thrill me” – becomes apparent that Lord Henry may want to corrupt Sibyl so that Dorian won’t marry her.
  • “there is only room for two” Lord Henry separates the “painter” from him and Dorian.
  • “He could not bear this marriage, and yet it seemed to him to be better than many other things that might have happened.” It is better for Dorian to marry Sibyl than begin an affair with Lord Henry.
  • “blurred to his eyes” once again Basil is crying as he has lost Dorian.

Chapter 7

  • The Jew is described with language that makes him seem corrupt, and Dorian dislikes him, despite the fact that he will become corrupt. Lord Henry “rather liked him” which makes sense as he is corrupt.
  • “he had came to look for Miranda and had been met by Caliban” – he had come to see the beauty of Sibyl but had been met by the ugliness of the Jew.
  • “These common, rough people, with their coarse faces and brutal gestures, become quite different when she is on the stage” Sibyl is elevated to a Godlike figure, being able to transform even the lowest of classes into decently behaved individuals
  • “The same flesh and blood as oneself! Oh, I hope not!” Lord Henry cannot bear to even think of being the same as the working class
  • “A faint blush” in Lord Henry’s eyes she is once again described in an aesthetic way, similar to Dorian’s descriptions, as looks are all Lord Henry considers
  • “were spoken in a thoroughly artificial manner” – her acting has grown false now she knows real love
  • Ironic that the first time Dorian sees the real Sibyl is the first time in the play Romeo sees Juliet.
  • “She was a complete failure” – let Dorian down in front of his friends
  • “They got restless” even the uneducated lower classes could tell that she wasn’t good and grew bored, the opposite effect of what Dorian had promised.
  • “The hot tears came to his eyes. His lips trembled, and, rushing to the back of the box, he leaned up against the wall, hiding his face in his hands.” a very adolescent reaction, an immature tantrum.
  • “You have no idea what I suffered.” Dorian is selfish when he confronts Sibyl, only thinks of himself, yet he thinks highly of his friends, putting them first, “My friends were bored. I was bored.” – very blunt with her.
  • “you freed my soul from prison. You taught me what reality really is.” no longer wants to act as she can understand love now, cannot merely act it anymore.
  • “Prince of life!” Similar to how Dorian revered Sibyl, here she reveres him,
  • “You have killed my love” – he never loved Sibyl, only really loved the characters and the mannerisms of her acting.
  • “a shudder ran through him” when she touched him, maybe he realised his homosexuality and realised he doesn’t find a woman’s touch appealing.
  • “You have thrown it all away” – she has thrown her life and talents, the “gold” of her life for Dorian’s love.
  • “I will never think of you. I will never mention your name.” Dorian is callous and cold to Sibyl, “Acting! I leave that to you. You do it so well.”
  • “a trampled flower” now her love has gone she is still described like nature, but similarly to Lady Henry, in a dour and negative way
  • “crouched on the floor like a wounded thing” – she has nothing left now, makes her seem helpless, like a child or an animal.
  • “looked down at her” – shows his bitter attitude, also looking down due to her class.
  • “lines of cruelty round the mouth” – he has done wrong and thus the painting has changed, first supernatural happening
  • “Had he been cruel?” Starts to regret, showing that his conscience is still intact.
  • “Why had such a soul been given to him?” Doesn’t take responsibility for his cruelty, blames God for giving him a soul that could do that.
  • “She was nothing to him now.” Bitter – tries to dismiss.
  • “Would it teach him to loathe his own soul” – irony as it does at the end.
  • “But he would not sin” – swears another oath, to make amends with Sibyl, “try to love her again” but only out of duty and respectability. He never fulfils this oath however, they are but false promises to right his wrongs
  • Irony as he talks about seeing Sibyl in the morning, yet she is probably already dead by the time he thinks this.

Thanks for reading,


Songs to Conjure Images 4

Once I get to five of these I think I’m officially allowed to call it a series!! If you haven’t read one of these I relate songs very easily to literature, I’ll be reading something and think, “Ooh that’s reflected in this song really well!” and so here are some more videos of songs for you to watch and enjoy.

Racism and Defying the Norm


This seems far fetched, but in my personal opinion ‘Defying Gravity’ is the anthem for being yourself. In ‘The Help’ Skeeter is a strong independent white woman who chooses to go against her friends and do what she knows is right. To me this rings true with Elphaba, the protagonist in ‘Wicked’. She is a character who was born green and was thus bullied and thought of as wicked, when all she wanted to do was stand up for animal rights and stand against the Wizard, a character who is easily manipulated by the evil Madame Morrible into ruling the nation of Oz. In ‘Defying Gravity’ Glinda and Elphaba say goodbye, as Glinda chooses to stay with the Wizard to protect the people and Elphaba flies off in rebellion. As we can see in the video Glinda is dragged away by guards and if Skeeter had been caught trying to integrate she would most likely be imprisoned too!

Enjoy the song, it’s one of my favourites!! (People in the UK by the way, Wicked is on tour at the moment and it is brilliant, well worth the money – I recommend it whole heartedly!!)

Life is for the living

In ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ Lord Henry persuades Dorian that life is worth living when you are young, and that youth is important. Whenever I read this I think of Fiyero from Wicked, a carefree layabout who only wants to live his life while he is young and do what he pleases. Fiyero seems almost corrupt at the beginning of the show, as he seems only to do what he wants. He reminds me slightly of Dorian when he grows more influenced by Lord Henry and lives his life in pursuit of pleasure alone. This song is Fiyero’s principle song, ‘Dancing Through Life’.


Thanks for reading,


The Preface all the way to Chapter 2!

So here are some notes on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ from the Preface through to Chapter 2! Hope these help if you’re studying ‘DG’ too!

There will be references to the WHOLE of the book so if you haven’t finished the book and don’t want the ending spoiled then read no further!!


  • The preface is basically a retaliation to the critics of the book, with Wilde’s observations on art and the meanings of art.
  • “To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim” – This shows immediately that this book was not meant to be about Wilde. Many people suggested that the book was near autobiographical.
  • “Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming” – Thus those who claim the book had latent homosexual messages are themselves the ones thinking the ‘corrupt’ thoughts, as they are the ones who noticed the homosexual messages that were ‘not meant to be there’
  • Wilde speaks of the ‘dislike of Realism’ which he suggests is like “the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” Caliban is an ugly and ignorant character from ‘The Tempest’, and thus Caliban would be upset to see how he really looks, just how the people of the 19th century would be upset to see how they really act.
  • Wilde also speaks of the ‘dislike of Romanticism’ which he suggests is like “the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.” This suggests that people disliked Romanticism as they thought it was too much like fantasy, and couldn’t see anything of real life in it, however this was obviously the point of Romantic works.
  • “No artist desires to prove anything” – thus Wilde never intended to offend or insult anyone by the themes of the book that were shocking at the time.
  • “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” – Again Wilde shows how the homosexual themes were laid very deep under ‘symbol’ and thus if the critics dug that far down then it’s their own fault if they disliked what they read. The findings of the critics reflects the mind of the the readers not the mind of Wilde, as THEY interpreted it that way, he didn’t present it openly.
  • “All art is quite useless” – art is there to be admired only, no deeper meaning is necessary, reflecting the ideas of the aesthetic movement of the time.

Chapter 1:

  • This chapter opens with artistic artisan imagery, especially of nature: “rich odour of roses”, “light summer wind”, “heavy scent of the lilac”, “more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.” Gives idea of Eden, and thus later on Lord Henry tempts the innocent Dorian out of this heavenly place, and this reflects the fall of man, the first sin, and the tempting snake. Talk of nature seems ironic in a place that is so full of art.
  • “The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.” gives an industrial feel to London, the word “organ” especially giving the idea of machinery.
  • “Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.” This former scandal lends itself almost perfectly to the ending where Basil gets murdered. It is merely assumed that he has disappeared again, just like the last time.
  • “a smile of pleasure passed across his face” – is this a smile of pleasure because of his masterpiece or due to Dorian himself?
  • “You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar.” immediately shows his judging and opinionated nature
  • “No, I won’t send it anywhere.” The painting was painted for himself alone, just like he wants Dorian for himself alone.
  • “thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy, opium-tainted cigarette.” this sentence gives a sense of heaviness and effort to everything.
  • “I have put too much of myself into it.” – Does this phrase also relate to the novel itself? Has Wilde put too much of his own sexuality in the themes of the book? Is the book almost autobiographical in nature? The painting could condemn Basil like the book eventually condemns Wilde.
  • “we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.” – Our lives are in the hands of ‘the gods’, Wilde is almost saying that if he is homosexual then it is God’s fault, not his.
  • “When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them.” This is similar to Sybil later on, who only ever refers to Dorian as “Prince Charming”
  • “the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.” Lord Henry is a very witty and cynical person
  • “I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.” Basil always thinks the best of everyone, Lord Henry is the immoral tempter in the book, yet Basil has nothing bad to say about him.
  • “every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.” This could reflect Wilde’s opinions being reflected in the book. The attitude of this passage seems to contradict the preface directly, suggesting that art reveals the artist.
  • “With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge overdressed dowagers and tedious academicians” – Basil doesn’t seem to like the times he’s living in, making such comments on society.
  • “Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty,” appears rude, but Basil thinks his cynicism is a pose
  • “oh, yes, plays the piano–or is it the violin, dear Mr. Gray?” Dorian presented as educated
  • “I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects.” Seems very shallow in his opinions of people,
  • “My elder brother won’t die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else.” His speech is almost always orientated with the aim to shock.
  • ‘ “Tell me more about Mr. Dorian Gray. How often do you see him?” “Every day. I couldn’t be happy if I didn’t see him every day. He is absolutely necessary to me.” ‘ Basil seems obsessed and besotted with Dorian.

Chapter 2

  • “As they entered they saw Dorian Gray. He was seated at the piano, with his back to them, turning over the pages of a volume of Schumann’s “Forest Scenes.” “You must lend me these, Basil,” he cried. “I want to learn them. They are perfectly charming.” “, the fact that Dorian has his back to them causes suspense. The inclusion of the “Forest Scenes” gives a sense of nature and innocence.
  • ” “That entirely depends on how you sit to-day, Dorian.” “Oh, I am tired of sitting, and I don’t want a life-sized portrait of myself,” answered the lad, swinging round on the music-stool in a wilful, petulant manner.” Basil seems like a parent chiding Dorian, and Dorian seems like a sulky child throwing a tantrum.
  • When Dorian sees Lord Henry a “faint blush coloured his cheeks”, giving Dorian a feminine character and showing that he is already slightly attracted to Lord Henry
  • “I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it.” shows that Dorian is essentially good but is weak minded and willed and this will be weak willed.
  • ” “That is very horrid to her, and not very nice to me,” answered Dorian, laughing.” Dorian is shocked but amused by Lord Henry’s quips about Lady Agatha
  • Dorian described like a young Adonis/Narcissus and this shows why he is trusted by many and why he gets away with things: “Yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candour of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity.”
  • ” “Would you think it awfully rude of me if I asked you to go away?” Lord Henry smiled and looked at Dorian Gray. “Am I to go, Mr. Gray?” he asked. “Oh, please don’t, Lord Henry. I see that Basil is in one of his sulky moods, and I can’t bear him when he sulks. Besides, I want you to tell me why I should not go in for philanthropy.” ” Basil is very protective of Dorian, and Lord Henry knows that he can use Dorian to manipulate Basil. Dorian is already fascinated by Lord Henry.
  • “If Dorian wishes it, of course you must stay. Dorian’s whims are laws to everybody, except himself.” Basil is battling Lord Henry for Dorian’s affection.
  • “He has a very bad influence over all his friends, with the single exception of myself.” Warning Dorian Gray subtly about the influences of Henry, and then as if on cue Henry begins influencing Dorian with a long speech, “Because to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed.”
  • “People are afraid of themselves, nowadays.” reflects how people are afraid to be themselves, especially if they’re homosexual.
  • Basil is almost always referred to as “the painter” in the rest of this chapter as that is now all he is, Dorian’s affections have been taken by Lord Henry.
  • In that day many people would be Christian, yet Lord Henry talks about the powers of the “brain” – showing his scientific and anti-religious side.
  • “Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them!” This shows how much of an influence Lord Henry has had over Dorian, as his “mere words” have gotten him into a confused stupor, contemplating life and death and all in between.
  • “Why had it been left for a stranger to reveal him to himself? He had known Basil Hallward for months, but the friendship between them had never altered him.” Lord Henry has now shown Dorian that he is homosexual. Dorian wonders why he’s attracted to Lord Henry but not Basil.
  • Henry starts to show Dorian that beauty and youth are the only things worth having, saying it would be “unbecoming” to get sunburnt, and that “youth is the one thing worth having.” He continues to talk to Dorian, persuading him that he needs to live while he has youth: “But what the gods give they quickly take away. You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it,”
  • Lord Henry exaggerates the effects of aging to show Dorian how youth is the most vital thing: “Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!”
  • “A furry bee came and buzzed round it for a moment. Then it began to scramble all over the oval stellated globe of the tiny blossoms.” Very childish language ‘furry bee’ to represent the youthful and innocent nature of Dorian. There are sexual overtones however as the bee is pollinating.
  • When Dorian sees the picture he has a shocking realisation: “Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.” This description is very like Henry’s over-dramatic interpretation of what aging does, showing how much Dorian has been influenced.
  • Dorian still seems childish: “a mist of tears” and Basil is concerned, ” “Don’t you like it?” cried Hallward at last, stung a little by the lad’s silence,”
  • Dorian expresses how the Dorian in the painting will never be older “than this particular day of June”, this day could have been the summer solstice, a day of magic, which could explain the supernatural element. He states that he “would give everything” for the painting to grow old and himself to stay young forever. He then states “I would give my soul” which seals the deal and is reminiscent of Faustus.
  • Dorian seems to become bitter and jealous of the painting and starts to think that Basil only likes him for his art, “I am less to you than your ivory Hermes or your silver Faun. You will like them always. How long will you like me? Till I have my first wrinkle, I suppose.” Art is immortal and man is not, and Dorian realises this. He grows rather over-dramatic, almost like a hormonal teenager when he states “When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.”
  • Basil blames Henry, ” “This is your doing, Harry,” said the painter bitterly.” and Henry defends himself. Basil has already resigned himself to the fact that Dorian has changed.
  • Basil goes to stab the painting, despite the fact that it’s his masterpiece – this shows how much he loves Dorian. However Dorian realises that there’s life in the painting and stops him, ” “Don’t, Basil, don’t!” he cried. “It would be murder!” “. Dorian is in love with the painting as he is now vain and loves himself.
  • Dorian pours out the tea, a woman’s role in that day and age, showing his feminine nature
  • We can see that Lord Henry is not a loyal person when he discusses cancelling his meal with his old friend, “I have promised to dine at White’s, but it is only with an old friend,”
  • Basil calls the painting the real Dorian, as the painting was painted before Dorian was negatively influenced by Lord Henry. Basil bites his lip, something he does constantly in this chapter as he is worried that Dorian is being stolen from him by Lord Henry. Basil then explains that Dorian and the painting are alike in “appearance” – suggesting that Dorian’s soul has been tainted by Lord Henry’s influence.
  • Basil begs Dorian not to go as he is besotted with him and cannot bear the idea of losing him: “He won’t like you the better for keeping your promises. He always breaks his own. I beg you not to go.” Lord Henry looks on “with an amused smile” as he has caused this argument.
  • When Dorian and Lord Henry leave together a “look of pain” came into Basil’s face, as he has been rejected and has lost Dorian.

This was a long blog post but I hope you got something out of it! I know I did!!

Thanks for reading,