Compare Gothic elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Dracula.

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In The Picture of Dorian Gray , the Gothic element is a sort of adjunct to the story and the themes presented in it. The supernatural—which is of course one of the main features of Gothic literature—is present in the portrait, which magically changes as a reflection of the transformation...

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In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the Gothic element is a sort of adjunct to the story and the themes presented in it. The supernatural—which is of course one of the main features of Gothic literature—is present in the portrait, which magically changes as a reflection of the transformation of Dorian from an apparently innocent and well-meaning youth to a corrupt man whose crimes culminate in murder. Though one could argue that Dorian's descent is caused by the portrait, this is only partly true. His first act of cruelty, the rejection of Sibyl (which leads to her suicide), happens before the picture begins to change, or at least before Dorian has had a chance to look at it and see the change. The entire story and its moral could conceivably have been presented by Wilde without the portrait even existing. The influence of Lord Henry and his amoral suggestiveness and the influence of the book Henry gives Dorian, the "novel without a plot" about a young man who seeks varied experiences, plant the seeds of destruction in Dorian. The portrait reflects what is already happening, though it also has a symbiosis with Dorian, for each time he sees it, he's convinced further that his own amoral behavior is his destiny and that, much like Macbeth, he is "in blood stepped in so far" that returning to the way things were has become impossible.

In Dracula the Gothic element is more central and essential to the plot than it is in Wilde's novel, since the whole story depends on the existence of a vampire (or vampires). It is a typically Gothic choice to set the story in a remote place, an old castle in Central Europe, specifically in a region (Transylvania) whose exact location most English-speaking readers would not know of. In Jonathan Harker's journal we immediately see the prime Gothic elements of remoteness, mystery, and the past. As Harker journeys east by train and then stagecoach, the eerie, creepy atmosphere of the situation becomes more and more intense. Harker is a modern man who reflexively dismisses the superstitious attitude of the locals who warn him not to continue to his destination. The castle itself is a kind of hell, inhabited not only by Dracula but also by the three vampire women who desire Harker and nearly succeed in attacking him. Except for the final scenes where Van Helsing, Seward and the others track down Dracula, the rest of the story takes place in England, but all of it is permeated by the supernatural element of the "undead" and is like a lurid nightmare: Lucy is attacked and then rises from the grave and has to be killed; Mina is attacked, and Dracula forces her to drink his blood; and references to blood and death are everywhere in the story.

In summary both novels have the gothic elements of mystery, the supernatural, fear and terror, and the depiction of forces that are "not of this earth." But in Dracula these features are stronger and more essential to the entire story's conception than they are in The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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