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With reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and any other related source material, how successful is Oscar Wilde in creating a Gothic novel with The Picture of Dorian Gray? Free essay! Download now

Home > GCSE > English literature > With reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and any other related source material, how successful is Oscar Wilde in creating a Gothic novel with The Picture of Dorian Gray?

With reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and any other related source material, how successful is Oscar Wilde in creating a Gothic novel with The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 3600 | Submitted: 03-May-2006
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“With reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher and any other related source material, how successful is Oscar Wilde in creating a Gothic novel with The Picture of Dorian Gray?”

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Duality is a common theme throughout many Gothic novels, often switching between the conscious and unconscious modes of both characters in the novel and their perception of the world around them and the reader’s understanding of the character he is reading about. One vehicle for this is the Doppelganger. In Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ the fortunes of the house and family are mysteriously entwined and integrated. The narrator when considering the weakness of the family line writes ‘It was this deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other… so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the “House of Usher” –an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion.’ This section examines the weakness/curse of the family line where for centuries, only one male has survived in each generation, the house reflects this by showing its bleak foreboding character and we wonder what state the occupant will be in when we meet him. Thus via the minds of the peasantry, we are introduced to the idea that the fortunes of the family and the house are one, so preparing us for the final scene when the final family line dies out and the flawed crack in the house leads to it falling down.

Dorian Gray leads a double life of outward responsibility whilst secretly breaking society’s moral codes; this is the core of the novel. He thoroughly enjoys indulging in immoral activities whilst escaping the consequences. Often, after returning home, he went to look at his portrait ‘and stand, with a mirror, in front of the portrait that Basil Hallward had painted of him, looking now at the evil and aging face on the canvas, and now at the fair young face that laughed back at him from the polished glass. The very sharpness of the contrast used to quicken his sense of pleasure. He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested of the corruption of his own soul.’ Here it seems that art or the portrait is mirroring the life and soul of Dorian Gray, however at the end of his life the two switch places once again.
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