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What are the gothic elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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literature2011 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted March 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM via web

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What are the gothic elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 8, 2011 at 1:00 AM (Answer #1)

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Gothic literature is a genre that stems from Romanticism. It shows the darker side of storytelling by infusing supernatural events to the plot. It also presents situations that inspire nostalgia, fear, and tension. Additionally, it evokes darkness and coldness to create an atmosphere of suspense and horror. Last, but not least, Gothic literature also deals with the theme of the inevitability of fate, which is our lack of control over our destinies.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray one can see most of these characteristics illustrated throughout the story. Dorian Gray's life changed as a result of a supernatural event: His portrait seemed to have "obeyed" Dorian's wish that the picture, and not Dorian, would age through time. As Dorian's life continued, his temperament grew more dark and evil than ever. As a result, the picture became a reflection of Dorian's soul.

Hence, Dorian lived enslaved to the terror of seeing his picture, because the it showed the grotesque sins that Dorian had committed against others. This meant that his fate was sealed: He could not control his life anymore than he could control the picture.

Therefore, the Gothic elements mentioned previously are clearly illustrated through the events in Dorian Gray's life: Individual lack of control over destiny, darkness and evil, the supernatural, and the feeling of fear that all these events bring together.

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