illustration of the upper-right corner of Dorian Gray's picture

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

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Student Question

Can Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Joyce's "The Dead" be connected?

Quick answer:

There are lots of compelling connections between James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. You could talk about the importance of reflections in both "The Dead" and The Picture of Dorian Gray. You could discuss how seeing the self links to themes of youth and death. More so, you could pair the homoeroticism of Dorian Gray with James Joyce's short story "An Encounter." Lastly, you could compare Wilde’s Salome to Ulysses’s Molly Bloom.

Expert Answers

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Making a connection between James Joyce and Oscar Wilde would be fascinating and compelling. Both are provocative Irish authors. James Joyce's Ulysses was banned in Ireland, England, Canada, and the United States. Meanwhile Oscar Wilde's play Salome was banned in England. More so, Wilde was sentenced to jail due to his sexual identity.

Comparing how the mirror impacts Gabriel in "The Dead" with how the painting impacts Dorian in The Picture of Dorian Gray is a good idea. You might want to talk about how each relates to youth. It’s around the mirror when Gabriel's wife tells him about "the young boy." Meanwhile, in Dorian Gray, the portrait is supposed to keep our main character forever young.

You might also want to talk about how self-reflection in "The Dead" is more ambivalent. In Dorian Gray, it represents something very specific. When Gabriel looks into the mirror, he's "puzzled." Yet Dorian is sure about what the painting reflects, which is why he destroys it.

That's another topic you could discuss: death. You might want to compare the death of Dorian to Joyce's "snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling."

Another way to compare Joyce and Wilde would be to compare the homoeroticism in Dorian to that in Joyce's short story "An Encounter." Who would the two boys represent in Dorian? Who would the suspicious man be in Dorian?

Lastly, if you’ve read Ulysses, you could compare Molly Bloom to Salome.

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