Slides in this set
Overview of how it is THEME: Victorian London
explored in the novel: What would the Victorian
perspective on this theme be
Basil's studio `the studio was filled with a rich odour of roses' (compared to present day)?
Basil's garden `two young men went out into the garden together and Dorian says `this grey, monstrous London of ours,
ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall with its myriads of people, it's sordid sinners and
laurel bush' its splendid sins' which reflects the undecided
Dorian's house `olive-satin curtains' `three tall windows' `onyx-paved relationship the Victorians had with their city
bathroom', `luxuriously-cushioned couch' London. The idea of the city gripped the 19th
Lord Henry's house `Lord Henry's house in Mayfair', `little library', `very century's imagination and London was seen as the
charming room', `luxurious armchair'
biggest and most powerful city on earth.
Lord Femor's `...over to the Albany to call on his Uncle' chap 3
Literature especially showed a divided place the
Lady Narborough's `...was ushered into Lady Narborough's drawing room by
rich (inherited wealth and industrialisation)
Duchess of Marmouth's `...sitting in the conservatory of the Selby Royal', compared with the east end (which was at first
`drove across the park to join the shooting party' associated with the averagely paid working class
The Vane's house `...was sitting in the one arm chair that their dingy sitting- soon went on to be thought as of the `Darkest
room contained' `...that led them close to their shabby home in the Euston England' with criminals and diseased poor who
Road' were on the brink of revolution).
The theatre `"What a place to find one's divinity in"', `faces in the pit', `the Significantly, Dorian's London highlights only the
heat was terribly oppressive' `"wretched hole of a place"' best and worst places in London the high end
Opium dens `he reached a small shabby house, that was wedged in between Grovenser square and the rare in London at the
two gaunt factories', `Over the low roofs and jagged chimney-stacks of the time opium dens. There are many places in
houses rose the black masts of ships', `...looked around at the grotesque between that are missed out such as the middle
things that lay in such fantastic postures on the ragged mattresses' class suburbs.
Also see top ten quotes for general London quotes
What did Wilde want us to think?
Wilde intends us to feel that there is a huge difference between the descriptions of the upper class's houses and the lower class. He
links setting with social class as the houses are exaggerated in description and sometimes it seems that the upper class houses are
described so extravagantly that it can be interpreted as Wilde mocking the wealth and flamboyancy of the upper class. `he went into
the library where a light French breakfast, that had been laid out for him on a small round table close to the window', `bowing
servants', `his servant came in with a cup of chocolate on a tray', `wearing a large buttonhole of parma violets'. The lower class places
are described as `shabby' and are described using hell imagery the theatre `pit' and the opium dens with it's `orange fan-like tongues
of fire'. Wilde describes the places so drastically different to provoke anger and sympathy for the two classes. The fact that James
Vane doesn't want to go to the park as only `swell people' and `smart people' go there and that they strain to see Dorian in his carriage
shows how other classes feel inhibited by the upper classes `world' even though they have perfect right to their `space' like the park
they visit.…read more
Top ten key quotes
Language analysis and context (if relevant)
1. 'Private room at the Bristol where dinner
Quote 8: The opium dens and the theatre , both in the lower class East end parts of
had been laid'
2. 'the dim roar of London was like the
London are described using hell imagery. The `tongues of fire' and the way the theatre is
bourdon note of a distant organ' described as a `pit' shows how they are presented as hell like and an awful place to live.
3. 'apricot coloured light of a Summer day in The quote `tongues of fire' directly links with the story of Faust where at the end he is
London' carried into hell by the devil, describing it as walking into the `tongues of fire'.
4. `"I went out and wandered eastward, soon
loosing my way in a labyrinth of grimy
Language analysis and context (if relevant)
streets, and black, grassless squares."'
5. `He remembered wandering through Quote 4,5,8,10: All these quotes suggest the East End darkness of London. It's not just a
dimly-lit streets, past gaunt black- geographical location but a state of mind as in Gothic novels in 19th century they
shadowed archways and evil-looking explored graveyards and castles as a backdrop for vampire and villains , Dorian therefore
houses' is represented in this way, as a protagonist villain as he explores his sins in an `urban hell'
6. `this grey, monstrous London of ours, with in the east end. He appears to vanish into the London fog of the lower end which is a
its myriads of people, it's sordid sinners natural habitat for Gothic literature's criminals.
and its splendid sins'
7. `"I am too shabby," he answered,
frowning. "Only swell people go to the Language analysis and context (if relevant)
Park."' Quotes 2 and 3: These are quite contrasting from the `dim roar' and `bourdon note'
8. `Strange bottle-shaped kilns with the which gives the idea of it sounding very sinister and almost funeral like from the use of
orange fan-like tongues of fire' the simile of the `organ'. However later it contrasts with the `apricot coloured light'
9. `...that led them close to their shabby which is bright and warm especially on a `summer day'. Wilde uses setting in context to
home in the Euston Road' the situation, the dull and dark London is described in the 1st chapter to set up the
10. `Over the low roofs and jagged chimney- introduction of the calculating Lord Henry, whereas the 2nd bright quote is used in
stacks of the houses rose the black masts chapter 4 where Dorian is still quite innocent and is in love with Sibyl.
What do the critics say about this theme?
· "Dorian's affairs in the nocturnal underworld of London are due to the fall in human psyche"- Carol Oates
· The West End upper classes are just "better at concealing their immorality" than the East End- Maho Hidak
· "While such passages serve t o establish a socioeconomic as well as a topographical distance between Mayfair and
Ratcliffe, ruling class and outcast, Wilde's novel in part suggests that such divisions are not rigid or absolute."- Robert
· Dorian is what the age called a flâneur- a wealthy wanderer where he spends his time "botanizing on the asphalt",
observing the life of the streets like a scientist. But also being observed as the streets are which the flâneur displays
himself as. Walter Benjamin (from the York notes)…read more