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

Jack

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!

Jack