Use of Floral Imagery and Symbolism in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

Use of Floral Imagery and Symbolism in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray

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During the Victorian Era, the upper class was known for their proper etiquette. Though there were numerous customs and guidelines, certain behaviors were prohibited as they were seen as inappropriate for various reasons, ranging from subtle flirtation to outright indecency. It was often found impolite or rude to ask or imply certain things about a person, especially because the Victorian Era’s rigid class system in England served as a barrier between genders and social classes. It was in that time period that floriography, also known as the language of flowers, became commonplace in their culture. Floriography was used in England to convey certain meanings, typically to convey romantic interest, but depending on the flowers and/or its arrangement, it could suggest a more negative message. It was a fairly common communication tactic during the Victorian Era.
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is, at first glance, a novel about a young, handsome man’s demise as he travels into a world of self- indulgence, immorality, and evil. Though the predominant motif of beauty versus ugliness is the main take-away point, Wilde’s use of symbols, particularly flowers cannot go unnoticed. From characterization to depicting religious allusions, flowers are frequently used in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Clearly, the novel’s use of roses, orchids, lilacs, and the like has an underlying meaning, which will be explored and analyzed in this essay.
Because of flowers’ popularity in Victorian England, Wilde’s use of floral imagery was purposeful and had some effect on the audience as a whole. Even stylistically, the language of the novel is flowery and dream-like. The question is why did Oscar Wilde use floral imagery in The Pic...

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...This essay discusses enough of The Picture of Dorian Gray to explain how floral imagery impacted the novel’s meaning. The use of floral imagery and symbolism has earned Wilde a place as one of the greatest and most influential writers of all time.

Bibliography/Works Cited
"The Picture of Dorian Gray." Novels for Students. Ed. Ira Mark Milne and Timothy Sisler. Vol. 20. Detroit: Gale, 2005. 146-165. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Sep. 2013.
Laufer, Geraldine A. Tussie-mussies. New York: Workman, 2000. Print.
Smith, Emily Esfahani. Wilde in an hour. 1st ed. Hanover: In an Hour, 2009. Print.
Solomon, Danielle. "The Orchids of Dorian Gray." N.p., 04 Dec 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2013. .
Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. New York: Barnes & Nobles, 2003. Print.

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