The end of Dorian Gray and a year of AS

The last blog post of this academic year before “proper” A Level!! Sorry that analysis of Dorian Gray hasn’t been uploaded, it’s been on the computer for about a week but there’s been technical difficulties with WordPress as well as internet in general in school!!

Chapter 13

  • Dorian insists that Basil makes the decision to see the painting “You insist on knowing, Basil?”
  • “A cold current of air passed them” could be symbolic of a change in wind and change in general. Feature of Gothic Literature, chilling
  • “and he tore the curtain from its rod, and flung it on the ground” a very dandyish action, an overdramatic flourish
  • The “hideous face on the canvas” was “grinning” – connotations with the devil,
  • Dorian watches Basil’s viewing of the picture, a “flicker of triumph in his eyes” – he’s obviously enjoying showing Basil what his painting has become
  • “crushing the flower in his hand” Dorian has removed the innocence from himself and this action represents that. Flowers are common symbols for dandyism and before crushing it he was “smelling it”, representative of his dandy life before his corruption.
  • “No! the thing is impossible. The room is damp. Mildew has got into the canvas. The paints I used had some wretched mineral poison in them.” Basil goes through the same thought process that Dorian did when he first observed the change, he attempts to find some scientific reason.
  • “It has destroyed me” almost a confession to Basil (the most priestlike character)
  • Basil as the moral character tries to absolve Dorian’s sins by finding somewhere to “kneel down” and “remember a prayer” – he then quotes the Bible “Though your sins be as scarlet, yeti will make them as white as snow”. Dorian however doesn’t want forgiveness, “Those words mean nothing to me now”
  • Dorian kills Basil with a knife. Basil is then referred to as “the man” and “the thing”- this shows how Dorian’s opinion of Basil has changed, he is very dispassionate.
  • Dorian thinks of an alibi and realises that Basil was intending to go to Paris – this is very convenient as Basil had disappeared years before and thus nobody would be worried if Basil had gone again, they would merely assume that he had gone out of the public eye like he did the time before.
  • Dorian’s very calm about his alibi, “but I had forgotten my latchkey” – he seems to think this up very quickly
  • Dorian worries and is “biting his lip”, a characteristic trait of Basil.
  • The chapter ends with suspense, “Yes; that was the man he wanted.”

 

Chapter 14

  • “The man had to touch him twice on the shoulder before he woke” – he slept almost too well, lost in “some delightful dream”
  • “It was almost like a morning in May” – this gives connotations of spring and rebirth, a new life for Dorian now that Basil is dead.
  • “He winced at the memory of all that he had done” note that Dorian is only concerned with himself, he is incredibly self absorbed. He is not concerned that his friend is dead, there is no care for Basil only for himself.
  • “that had made him kill him” Dorian thinks that it isn’t his fault for what he did, it was an emotion that “made him” do it, he couldn’t have not done it as Basil was making him angry.
  • “Hideous things were for the darkness” typical Gothic literature
  • “He spent a long time also over breakfast” he indulges himself, ignoring what he’s done. Dorian then tries to distract himself by drawing but every face he draws “seemed to have a fantastic likeness to Basil Hallward.” This gives the ideas of ghostly omens as well as subconscious guilt. Dorian then reads about Venice, the city of masks, ironic as he wears a mask most of the time, he is immoral however he pretends to be an upstanding upper class gent.
  • “Poor Basil! What a horrible way for a man to die!” finally we see a glint of conscience in Dorian.
  • Wilde then personifies time as Dorian waits for Alan Campbell to arrive, “Time seemed to him to be crawling with feet of lead”, this shows how slow and heavy his thoughts were.
  • Dorian obviously trusts Alan Campbell, he could be jailed for killing this man, “Yes: it is a matter of life and death.” He pleads with him and makes him feel like only he can help, “You are the only man who is able to save me.”
  • Dorian and Alan obviously have history; they were probably past lovers, “Ah! I was waiting for you to call me Dorian”
  • Once Alan complies Dorian doesn’t let him leave, he gets his servant to go and get the equipment, if Alan left the house he could change his mind and flee, or even go to the police.
  • The picture has changed once again, with “red dew that gleamed, wet and glistening,” Dorian covers it up before Alan enters; he’s only worried about himself.

 

Chapter 15

  •  Dorian is wearing “Parma violets” in his buttonhole, a very clean flower; complete irony considering Basil was disposed of and dissolved in the same house.
  • Lord Henry notices immediately that Dorian isn’t in character “what is the matter with you tonight? You are quite out of sorts.”
  • When Dorian gets home we see the secrecy of       the upper classes when he opens the secret “triangular drawer” containing the “chinese box”, shows the double life.
  • Dorian embarks on a long journey, paying the driver a lot of money to do so.

 

Chapter 16

  •  Negative connotations with the working class are present throughout this chapter, I’ll list some quotes here rather than keep coming back to it, “horrible laughter” “drunkards brawled and screamed” “sordid shame of the great city”. In windows shadows appeared and they moved like “monstrous marionettes, and made gestures like live things” this associates animalistic ideas with lower classes, as well as making them seem like they’re not as good as others, “the driver beat at them with a whip”. The prostitutes are associated with the devil, “two red sparks flashed for a moment in the woman’s sodden eyes”, “greedy fingers”
  • Gothic literature features, the area is dark, the moon “hung low” like a “yellow skull” an obvious death omen.
  • Dorian’s double life becomes obvious, disguising himself as a poor man so he can feed his “hideous hunger for opium”. When Dorian sees those who have been taking opium he regards them as “grotesque things”
  • Dorian “wanted to escape from himself” as his memories are too excruciating for him to endure, “he wanted to be where no-one would know who he was”.
  • Dorian obviously has a reputation “There goes the devil’s bargain!”
  • One of the prostitutes calls him “Prince Charming” and thus a “drowsy sailor” – James Vane, follows Dorian out and points a gun at him. James’ speech is very dramatic ironically considering how he was the least dramatic of the family, “Her death is at your door” “Make your peace with God, for tonight you are going to die”.
  • Dorian grows “sick with fear”, it isn’t guilt, he is merely scared of his own death
  • Dorian shows him that he looks too young to have forced Sibyl to suicide eighteen years ago, and he becomes confident, taking the upper hand, “You have been on the brink of committing a terrible crime, my man.”
  • A prostitute then reveals to James that Dorian hasn’t changed for eighteen years, though he has obviously ruined her “since Prince Charming made me what I am”

 

Chapter 17

  •  Dorian was whispering to Lady Narborough, charming her as she “pretended to listen” to what the Duke said. This is what marriage was like in those days, merely for money not love.
  • Dorian says that Lord Henry’s name should be “Prince Paradox” and Lord Henry refuses “the title” – he doesn’t want to accept who he is.
  • The upper classes chat and Lord Henry uses many witticisms, using his wit to argue with people. At the end of the chapter we are left with a cliffhanger, as Dorian faints, his conscience catching up with him “Am I safe here Harry?”, the main cliffhanger however is that James Vane was “watching him”. Oddly Dorian is very afraid but only because someone has exposed his secret.

 

Chapter 18

  •  “The next day he did not leave the house” – he is obviously very paranoid, Wilde uses animalistic terms to show how he feels, “The consciousness of being hunted, snared, tracked down,”
  • Dorian ventures out on the “third day” – religious connotations of Jesus rising on the third day.
  • Nature “the clear, pine-scented air” “seemed to bring back his joyousness”, he has been cleansed and calmed
  • Dorian doesn’t want Geoffrey to shoot the rabbit, because it “strangely charmed” him, however if Geoffrey had not shot again James Vane would not have been killed.
  • Geoffrey is not compassionate for this man, the death has “spoiled” his “shooting for the day” – shows the little regard he has for the lower classes.
  • Dorian believes the death is a “bad omen”, however once he sees the face of the man who was shot he lets out a “cry of joy” as it was James Vane. He then knew “he was safe” and was relieved.

 

Chapter 19

  • Lord Henry dips his “white fingers into a red copper bowl”, this could be interpreted as his corruption of Dorian, from “rose white boyhood” to the “sins of scarlet”. Lord Henry says “Pray don’t change” which is highly ironic as he already has due to Lord Henry.
  • Dorian is trying to put things right, “I began my good actions yesterday”, he is very proud of himself as he chose not to corrupt a young girl, “Hetty”, a lower class country girl. Dorian was “determined to leave her as flower-like as I had found her”. However Lord Henry ruins his good mood by saying that he has broke this young girl’s heart, and that she’ll never be “content with anyone of her own rank”. Dorian is hurt, “You mock at everything”.
  • Dorian tries to open up about Basil’s death, “What do you think has happened to Basil?” He almost tries to confess, “Harry, did it ever occur to you that Basil was murdered?” “What would you say, Harry, if I told you that I had murdered Basil?” Lord Henry brushes these off, saying that Basil was “really rather dull” and thus would not have been murdered and that it was not in Dorian to commit a murder.

 

Chapter 20

  • Narration in this section is not typical of gothic literature as there’s good weather “a lovely night”, free direct speech.
  • A young girl told Dorian that he couldn’t be “wicked” because “wicked people were always very old and very ugly” – Dorian is now tired of being ugly in soul, he wants to reform and become better – he’s desperate to change back to his former self, “He felt a wild longing for the unstained purity of boyhood.”
  • He looks in the mirror sees his face and realises what he really is, “His beauty had been to him but a mask”. He smashes the mirror, a bad omen, foreshadowing what will happen at the end of the chapter.
  • Everybody who could reveal his secret is dead, James Vane, Basil, Alan Campbell (who shot himself in his lab), all these people died because of him.
  • “Basil had said things to him that were unbearable”- he still doesn’t accept full responsibility.
  • Dorian thinks of Hetty and wonders whether the portrait’s changing back, he goes upstairs to look, and yet the painting has grown worse, “like blood newly spilt”. He realises that he only did his one good deed to appease himself and make himself feel better, a very selfish act. He realises there’s no escape and that he has to destroy the painting, “He would destroy it.”, this vow is so that he can try to escape
  • Dorian uses the “knife that stabbed Basil Hallward”, symbolic as it kills the painter and the painting, “As it had killed the painter, so it would kill the painter’s work.” He feels that “he would be free”.
  • Dorian stabs the painting and is dead on the floor, the painting has been reverted to his “exquisite youth and beauty” and on the floor was a “dead man” with a “knife in his heart.” He has changed to the image of the picture, “withered, wrinkled and loathsome of visage.”

Good luck to all of you who have the English Literature AS exam tomorrow like I do, you’ll all do great 🙂

Thanks for reading all this year and I look forward to writing new stuff for A Level!!

Jack 😀

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