The Picture of Dorian Gray

Significant Locations In ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ 11th Grade

In his novel of 1891, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, Wilde uses setting and location to explore not only the character and moral conscience of his protagonist but also the divides inherent within Victorian society as he contrasts the wealthy homes of Mayfair with the crowded poverty of London’s East End. The dissimilarities between locations so geographically close reflect the duality of Dorian Gray’s own identity while simultaneously raising questions as to the hypocrisy of aristocratic life towards the close of the nineteenth century.

London, the setting for the majority of the novel, is throughout personified as something monstrous. Though most explicit in descriptions of the East End, where “this grey, monstrous London of ours” stretches out “like the black web of some sprawling spider”, it is present too even in scenes apparently without threat, its “dim roar” heard even from Basil Hallward’s studio, a location which seems to symbolise all innocence. Perhaps this was intended to show how inescapable the nature of the city is. Victorian society was much concerned with the ever-growing London and the looming threat which an expanding working class posed to the refined way of life enjoyed by the elite aristocracy and a London...

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