The Supernatural in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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If you can get past most of the superficial and unlikeable characters in The Picture of Dorian Gray, this story does indeed have its place in the horror genre. While I understand the setting and the characters were a reflection of the actual class distinctions during the Victorian time period, I found the shallowness and narcissism of Dorian Gray and his circle of acquaintances tedious. "Fops" came to mind more than once along with "don't these people have a purpose other than to dine out and indulge themselves?" Even the women were for the most part portrayed as imbeciles. It almost hurt to read the section in chapter four where Lord Henry's wife appears for the first and only time: "She was usually in love with somebody, and, as her passion was never returned, she had kept all her illusions. She tried to look picturesque, but only succeeded in being untidy. Her name was Victoria, and she had a perfect mania for going to church" (Wilde 41). The only likeable main character is Basil Hallward who seems to have a conscience, and although it proves his undoing, he is the only one that tries to save Dorian.

I think several elements of the supernatural came into play in the story: the painting which had the capacity to change in showing Dorian's sins and evildoings, the use of mirrors, and direct and indirect references to selling one's soul to the devil.

The very fact that the painting changes, places this story in the realm of the supernatural. In The Element Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Hauntings by Theresa Chung, supernatural is defined as: "Any experience, occurrence, manifestation or object that is beyond the laws of nature and science and whose understanding may be said to lie with religion, magic or the mystical" (480). Af...

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...years. Lord Henry enjoyed influencing Dorian: "He was conscious--and the thought brought a gleam of pleasure into his brown agate eyes--that it was through certain words of his, musical words said with musical utterance, that Dorian Gray's soul had turned to this white girl and bowed in worship before her. To a large extent the lad was his own creation" (Wilde 51). What makes Lord Henry's influence worse is his utter lack of understanding how harmful it was, and, how little he really knew Dorian, evidenced towards the end when Dorian practically tells him he murdered Basil.

Works Cited

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Michael Patrick Gillespie, Editor. Norton Critical Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2007.

Cheung, Theresa. The Element Encyclopedia of Ghosts & Hauntings. Element Encyclopedia Series. Unknown: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2008.

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