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Oscar Wilde's Success At A Gothic Novel

1373 words - 5 pages

In this essay I will be looking at how successful Oscar Wilde was at
creating a gothic novel. I will be using Edgar Alan Poe’s short story
The Fall of the House of Usher and the film Bram Stokers, Dracula and the

The Picture of Dorian Gray.

In this essay I will be looking at how successful Oscar Wilde was at
creating a gothic novel. I will be using Edgar Alan Poe’s short story
‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ and the film ‘Bram Stokers, Dracula’
and the earlier version ‘Nosferatu’ as reference pieces to the gothic
form. Other pieces I shall be looking at are Goya’s ‘The Sleep of
Reason Produces Monsters’, and Henry Fuseli’s ‘The Nightmare’.

What is gothic? The dictionary defines gothic as ‘the style of
architecture prevalent in Western Europe in the 12th – 16th centuries
and revived in the 18th – 19th centuries characterized by pointed
arches’. But it is much more than that; gothic represents freedom and
human nature at its best. Gothic is action without reaction and
feeling without consequence. It allows use to indulge our most
secretive fantasies, this is one the main reasons the gothic genre
came back in the 18th century because the upper classes were becoming
bored with just sitting and going out all the time, with the only
worry of what other people thought of them, but when gothic came back
in it allowed them to indulge in most secret desires such as
bestiality, vampires, homosexuality and other erotic pass times.
Gothic architecture is castles and churches, these usually have large
tall pillars and high spiked roof tops, the idea was when you prayed
the pray floated up to g-d so if the roof was spiked at the top, the
prays would build up and finally be projected towards the heavens.

When Oscar Wilde wrote ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ in 1891 the gothic
phase was coming to an end but Oscar Wilde still managed to cause
uproar when it was published. I shall now be looking at the novel its
self and certain gothic passages in the novel with reference to Edgar
Alan Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’. The story is about a
young man in his early twenties and how he sells his soul to the devil
for eternal youth and beauty. When he does this the newly painted self
portrait of himself ages instead of him, this then allows him to
explore his greatest fancies and not worry about his soul and the
repercussions it shall have upon his friends nor his soul. This
already shows signs of the gothic genre, as he is able to become
completely free. In the end it destroys him and he dies. In Chapter 16
Oscar Wilde writes about how Dorian Gray visits opium dens. The opium
dens almost take Dorian Gray out of reality and into the dream world.
On page 177 Oscar Wilde writes an amazing line that is very gothic ‘…the
streets like the black web of some sprawling spider. The monotony
became unbearable, and as the mist thickened, he felt afraid.’ This
is just like how ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ describes the...

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